Speaking of which, we suggest a popular activity on the water: kayaking. Not only is it the best way to relax, but it’s also a great way to get moving. (Don’t have a kayak? We recommend the Oru Lake Kayak, which is lightweight and foldable.)
Below, certified personal trainers delve into why kayaking is the thing to do this summer (plus how to stay safe doing it).
How your body benefits from kayaking
Kayaking improves heart health and general health
For starters, kayaking is a great option if you want another way to get cardio into your routine. “Kayaking is a good cardio workout, so it keeps your heart healthy,” says Josh York, CPT, founder and CEO of GYMGUYZ.
Additionally, cardiovascular exercises can also benefit your skin, digestion, joints, muscles, lungs, immune system, sleep quality and more, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Works the muscles in the arms, core, and upper back.
While kayaking can be a great exercise for anyone who feels up to it and is interested, it’s “especially great for those looking to build muscle in the arms, core, and upper back,” says Jesse Feder, a CPT with My Crohn’s and Colitis Team. “Kayaking involves using your upper body and core muscles to push against the resistance of the water with your oars, which is what makes this a great exercise.” He adds that people who work hunched over a desk all day may want to especially work those muscles.
Also, kayaking is different from other common types of exercise that you can do with a few friends. “(Kayaking) doesn’t put too much stress on the joints, unlike other social activities like hiking, volleyball or dancing,” says York.
It helps your joints, muscles, and bones stay strong.
The kayak is also ideal for the elderly or those with joint or muscular problems. That’s because it builds muscle and bone density, according to Mike Julom, ACE-certified personal trainer, CrossFit athlete, and founder of ThisIsWhyImFit.com. “It’s similar to lifting weights, but instead of a dumbbell, you’re lifting your paddle against the resistance of the water,” he explains. “(This can) help combat the natural decline in bone density that occurs with age.”
can be changed
Any workout can get boring if you don’t switch things up a bit. That’s why York loves how customizable the kayak is. If she wants to improve a bit, play around with the rhythm of her strokes or, if she’s experienced enough, consider kayaking in a faster current or a winding river rather than an open lake, something that she requires you to maneuver. . in a different way. There are also one and two person kayaks that will change the dynamics of your training, depending on what you choose.
How kayaking is good for the mind
Increases the hormones of well-being.
As a form of movement, kayaking increases dopamine and serotonin, which are hormones that lower stress, create feelings of happiness, and have other positive effects.
It is done outdoors, which can reduce stress and improve mood.
As an outdoor workout, it brings all of those benefits. Both Feder and York mention how peaceful and healing both nature and fresh air are.
Julom explains this in more detail, talking about how the rhythmic motion of paddling, the sound of the water, and the sensation of sliding across the surface can be relaxing. “This is an example of what psychologists call the ‘blue space’ effect, where being near water can lead to lower levels of stress and anxiety,” he says.
It can lead to higher levels of trust.
If you’re new to kayaking, or even if you’re not, practice can also serve as a confidence booster. “Overcoming challenges, such as learning to drive or facing more difficult water conditions, can build a sense of accomplishment and improve self-esteem,” Julom adds.
For your information, some risks to prepare for before jumping into the water
The kayak could capsize
While kayaking is one of the most fun ways to exercise, it is not without its risks. First of all, the possibility of capsizing. Julom says wearing a life jacket is crucial, regardless of how well you can swim. “Plus, learning and practicing how to right an overturned kayak can be a lifesaver,” he says.
The elements can be dangerous.
From a safety standpoint, be aware of where and when you kayak. York recommends doing some research on the body of water to make sure it’s safe. Some examples of information to verify include:
- Finding a calm, shallow place in the water
- Wear a helmet (along with your life jacket)
- Bring whistle, flashlight, extra paddle and navigation equipment.
- kayaking with a friend
- Skip the activity if the weather is stormy or windy
Along those lines, Julom recommends being mindful of your exposure to the elements. “Sunburn, dehydration, and hypothermia can all be concerns when kayaking, depending on weather conditions,” he says. To avoid these risks, he continues, wear sunscreen, bring plenty of water, and dress for the weather.
You could overwork or strain a muscle
Listening to your body is paramount. “As with any activity, overuse injuries can be a problem if you do too much too soon,” says Feder. “While kayaking is great for the body and muscles, it’s best to start the activity easy and build strength and stamina.”
Julom stresses the importance of proper rowing technique. “Using your core muscles to power your stroke, rather than just your arms, can help distribute effort and reduce stress,” he says. Plus, it encourages warm-up and cool-down to prevent muscle strains and injuries.
In addition to technique, the frequency and duration of your kayak sessions are also important. Julom recommends that beginners soak in the water for no more than 20 to 30 minutes, once or twice a week. As they get more comfortable, he says, they can go up to an hour or two and up to three times a week. He explains that this frequency gives people the benefits of kayaking without sacrificing the time their bodies need to recover.
Otherwise, consistency is key. “I would recommend that someone kayak as often as they would exercise otherwise,” York adds.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when it comes to water safety. At the same time, all of the mental and physical benefits of kayaking, plus the sheer enjoyment it can bring, mean it may just be your new favorite way to get around this summer.