Every week I enjoy doing the traditional gym workouts in my home gym; give me my resistance bands, dumbbells, treadmill, kettlebell, stability ball, etc. and I will have a blast moving and pushing my body to my favorite jams! However, I too like to change things up and incorporate unconventional workouts into my routine to add variety as well as keep things fun and fresh.
So what is my unconventional workout of choice? I have a few, but I particularly love going kayaking with my husband! He has been fishing and kayaking for years, but he recently bought me my very own kayak so that I could join him out on the water. This time together is not only filled with quality alone time and bonding, but there are also a number of health benefits associated with kayaking!
Kayaking combines cardiovascular activity with low-impact strength training for an all-around excellent workout. Here are some of the health benefits you can expect from your time on the water.
Improved cardiovascular health
You may not realize the amount of energy that is expended when kayaking, particularly when you are paddling upstream against the current. As you navigate your chosen body of water, the pace and intensity of your kayaking are up to you. The harder you paddle, the more you will increase your heart rate. Maintaining a steady pace or alternating between slower and faster intervals will definitely get the heart pumping. This great low-impact exercise will help improve heart health as well as burn fat.
Increased upper body strength
Your upper body is where you are going to feel the burn the most! The paddling motion along with the resistance of water will strengthen the muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, and chest. These muscles will engage most with increased resistance, therefore if you are wanting to gain the most out of this workout, make sure you aren’t only paddling with the current. It is most effective when you paddle against the current. Burn out that upper body; you will feel it the following morning!
Increased strength in legs, glutes, and core
Though kayaking really targets the upper body muscles, it does not leave the lower body without a workout of its own. Proper and efficient paddling form requires the use of leg and glute muscles, too. Additionally, along with leg and glute muscles, the back-and-forth motion of seated paddling also engages your core and builds stronger ab muscles. Your oblique muscles (the muscles responsible for rotating your core) are what are engaged with the motion of paddling to the left and right.
Low impact movement
For many people high impact exercises are not an option due to body or health issues, or perhaps they simply do not enjoy that type of exercise. Therefore, kayaking is a great option for a low-impact exercise that is gentle on the joints, making it suitable for people with arthritis or those at risk of injury. Though keep in mind that it can still be an intense workout, therefore if you have arm and shoulder problems, you may want to seek medical advice before grabbing a kayak and heading to the water.
Calming time outdoors
In addition to the physical health benefits, kayaking is wonderful for the mind and the soul! Being outdoors with the fresh air and tranquil sounds of the water make for a peaceful and calming activity that will boost your mood! Especially when you spot some incredible wildlife. My husband and I have seen the most beautiful wild horses, birds, and even adorable ducklings on the water! All of this is great for reducing stress, clearing your mind, re-centering and reconnecting with yourself and/or with your partner. Just remember to wear a hat, have a life vest, take lots of water, and absolutely do not forget to wear sunscreen!
If you have never been kayaking before, please do your research and learn from someone with experience. It is important to know the security measures you need to take as well as learn some helpful techniques to keep things fun but will also keep you safe.
Happy and healthy kayaking!