10 Benefits of a Kayak Workout – Paddle Away from Stress

Kayaking is a popular outdoor activity with many physical and mental benefits. If you are looking for a fun way to get outdoors and exercise, you are in luck.  This article focuses on how you can benefit from a kayak workout. 

A kayak workout is excellent because a lot of people can do it. You don’t need a gym membership, and it’s not intimidating.  Paddling has many benefits, and we are not just talking about the physical aspect. Let’s get into how you can benefit from a kayak workout.

What Are the Benefits of a Kayak Workout?

Paddling a kayak may sound like a walk in the park, but working out on the water is no joke. Water resistance is an excellent way to improve endurance and overall physical health. The harder you paddle, the more intense the workout.

Go At Your Own Pace

You can go as fast or slow as you want in a kayak. If you are starting out, you can paddle slowly and work your way into better shape.  You are not competing against a bunch of other people, like when you take a class at a gym.

Start slow and work on your endurance.  The water is your resistance. The slower you paddle, the easier it is.  If you are in good shape, you can paddle faster and harder for a more intense workout.

The great thing about a kayak workout is that you can increase or decrease the resistance whenever you want to.

Fully Body Workout

Many people think paddling is all about your arms, but you also need a strong midsection.  Core strength will help you rotate your torso, which helps you paddle more efficiently. Paddling targets core muscles you might not hit during a regular workout routine.

With proper technique, you will use your shoulders, lats, lower back, core muscles, and legs. Legs are integral in guiding and steering your kayak. The faster you paddle, you can build endurance, so be prepared to get a full-body workout. Paddling against the current or on choppy waters can increase the intensity.

Spending a day on the water can be quite a workout if you want one. You might try a pedal drive kayak for a more intense leg workout.

Low Impact Exercise

Paddling is a great low-impact workout. Because you are sitting, kayaking is much less demanding on your knees, ankles, and other joints, unlike running or using a treadmill.  You can exert more or less effort by changing the intensity of your workout.

Paddling faster will increase your heart rate; if you need a break, you can slow down.  You can mix it up and combine smooth paddling with short bursts of intense paddling. If you work out regularly, kayaking is a great way to add balance and focus on your upper body.

Plus, if you want to, conditions permitting, you can dive in and go for a swim, another great low-impact exercise.

Not Just Good for Your Body

A day on the water is a great way to leave your worries behind and relax. After a long day (or week) of work, escaping outdoors is an excellent way to recharge your batteries.

When you go to the gym, you must deal with big screen TVs, blaring music, people, dudes grunting, and tossing weights around. Kayaking gives you a tranquil, enjoyable experience that is very soothing.

Take an afternoon, or a day, to experience fresh air and exercise, and you can let your body decompress. Kayaking is great for your mind and your body.

Every Fitness Level

Young or old, paddling is an activity that can accommodate everyone.  If you are a senior looking for a low-impact workout, kayaking is an excellent option. Kayaking is an excellent way for young people to stay active and add a little adventure to their life.

You can design the kayak workout around your fitness level and goals. No matter your age, paddling can help you stay fit and healthy.


We have already established that kayaking is an excellent way to get some physical exercise.  It doesn’t matter if you are on a calm lake, a slow-moving river, or a larger body of water.  It’s also a great way to clear your head.

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and lift your mood.  Plus, being on the water adds an element of peacefulness. You don’t have to focus your mind on anything; enjoy floating across the water.

A kayak workout is a fantastic way to improve physical and mental health.

Improve Your Balance

As you step onto or into a kayak for the first time, it may seem a little squirrely (off-balance).  If you don’t want to go overboard, you will quickly learn to find the center of gravity and keep your balance.

Maintaining your balance requires different muscles to work together, so kayaking gives you an off-balance workout opportunity. Your core and leg muscles work together to keep you balanced. You will find that you need to focus on your body position and posture as you paddle.

Enjoy the Outdoors

We have already touched on this a bit, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s fun and relaxing to get outdoors and enjoy nature. For some of us, it’s even better in a kayak.

With a kayak, you can explore waterways and other areas that you may not be able to access on foot or with a larger boat. You can experience nature and enjoy the great outdoors when you go kayaking.  This can give you a sense of calm that is good for the soul.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones, and one of the best ways to get it is from the sun.  Spending time on the water is a great way to soak up some rays. 

Spending time on the water in the sun is a great way to get some much-needed sunshine. Make sure you don’t soak up too much sun, or you could end up burnt. 

Build Community

If you are interested in joining other folks interested in kayaking, ask around. There might be a paddling or fitness club where you can join similar-minded people for a workout on the water. 

Paddling with others is a great way to build community and get to know people with similar interests. You can even meet up on a weekly or every other week basis.

Before You Head Out

Before you hit the water for your workout, you need to have the right gear.  If you don’t own a kayak already, you can rent one from a local shop. There are often rentals available on lakes or in your local community.

If you want to take the plunge and purchase a kayak, you can learn about the different types of kayaks.  Or, check out the best kayaks for beginners.

Pick the right gear

You are going to need a few things to get started with your kayak workout. 

For starters, you will need the following:

Other items you might consider are:

Watch the weather

The weather can change quickly in certain places, so it’s important to know what to expect. Be sure you check the weather before you head to the water. 

It can be dangerous, to be stuck on the water when the weather is horrible. Be smart and be safe. Check the weather before you hit the water. Make sure you have a kayak app downloaded for the latest information.


A kayak workout can be great for your mind and body. You might even work some muscles that have been neglected for a while.  Paddling is a versatile workout that you can make hard or easy, depending on your fitness level.  

If you are up for a different kind of workout, try paddling. You might find that it’s just what you have been looking for.

Featured Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.