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Kayaking for Fitness

VideoApril 30, 2013

If you’re looking for a great upper-body workout, kayaking for fitness can’t be beat. Vigorous paddling exercises the back, abs and arms, all while you’re in a much more beautiful setting than a gym. Kayaking instructor Ken Whiting gives tips on getting started in this healthy regime.

Kayaking for fitness started getting increased recognition as adventure racing became more popular. Many of the races have a kayaking leg, so more and more people began training in kayaks. It didn’t take long for folks to realize that kayaking provides a great alternative, and compliment, to other aerobic fitness activities like running and biking.

Kayaking doesn’t have the lower body pounding that jogging or running delivers, so it’s also a great activity for anyone who has hip or knee problems. And since it’s one of the few outdoor activities that focuses on the upper body, it provides a good balance to your exercise regime and helps avoid some of the common overuse injuries.

For fitness paddling any boat will do the trick; however, a narrower boat will glide through the water more smoothly and allow you to go faster. That’s not a great advantage for fitness, unless you’re racing; and, the narrower the boat, the less stable they are. Some boats used by Olympic sprint paddlers are only 18" wide, about half the width of some recreational kayaks. There are great buys out there that the beginning fitness paddler can take advantage of, and all you need is the boat, a paddle and a good life jacket.

Check with your local paddling shops or paddling clubs to see if there are organized fitness paddling events in your area. Some groups hold regular races. These laid-back types of events will give you a good workout, plus help you meet other outdoor people with similar interests. Having some good paddling partners will help keep you motivated to regularly hit the water!