Getting a good workout is important for a healthy lifestyle and something I try to do daily. I’ve been interested in ways to integrate paddling into my routine, but have found it difficult to do because I haven’t known exactly what kind of workout I get when I’m on a yak and the prep time/storage involved with using a boat. After doing some research, I decided on doing a two part blog. This week, I wanted to define the type of workout you get from paddling. Next week, expect tips and strategy to integrating paddling into your routine.

Paddling for Exercise

With spring upon us, fitness enthusiasts have the opportunity to emerge from the climate safety of their gyms and return to the outdoors. This might mean getting off a stationary bike and getting on a real one, or leaving the treadmill for a running trail. But for those of you who want something completely different, consider integrating paddling into your daily exercise routine.

Most people think of paddling as a way to connect with nature – and it is. But what many people forget is that paddling can actually provide a very unique workout. Specifically, paddling will strengthen the upper body and offer aerobic and cardio benefits. This makes paddling a great exercise to pair with something like running or cycling, which focus more on lower body strength.

Some of the Many Benefits

One of the biggest benefits of paddling for fitness is that it provides an excellent core workout. The core, made up of the lower and upper abdominal muscles, are strengthened through the turning and shifting of the kayak. Each turn of the kayak results in the use of these abdominal muscles and over time, builds this area. A strong core is important for everyone — it will give you stability, balance and support for your back, hips and joints.

Of course, the continuous paddling motion does more than benefit your core. Each stroke uses the shoulder and arm muscles which over time will increase muscle mass and muscle tone. This repetitive movement also makes paddling a great aerobic workout. Calorie burn varies by paddler and will be dependent on how hard and long you paddle and whether or not you are paddling against wind or currents. It has been said to be comparable to swimming at a moderate pace or a slow jog. Finally, this continuous movement raises the heart rate and increases cardiovascular health. Not many sports offer such a great combination of strength training, cardiovascular health and aerobic calorie burn while enjoying the great outdoors!

For those looking to build your anaerobic capacity, interval training can be a great way to achieve this. This entails paddling hard for one minute, relaxing for two or three and then going hard again. Interval training is very commonly done by kayak specific athletes but can be useful for anyone looking for additional anaerobic workouts.

Balancing Your Workout

Paddling provides an excellent alternative to other workout routines. It can help to break up just about any exercise program, which is great for overall fitness, strength and endurance. Conventional fitness training focuses mainly on lower body, like running and cycling, so paddling supplements these very well.

Paddling is easy to jump right into, but overtime skill and technique will improve to make for more effective workouts. We encourage you to investigate further into all of the things that will increase the benefits of paddling workout. Learning proper stroke technique and posture are both key to ensuring a good workout. If you are in the Austin or Houston areas, consider our upcoming Paddles and Paddling seminar! Danny Mongno of Werner Paddles will be discussing technique and paddle fit for all skill levels. He will be visiting our Houston store on Wednesday, March 14th 6pm-8pm and the Austin store on Thursday, March 15th 6pm-8pm.

Joseph @ACK