Why Kayaking Is The Perfect Exercise For Active Recovery

Posted July 13, 2022 in Exercise, Recovery, Sports No Comments »
kayaking for active recovery

You already know that kayaking is a great way to go out and see nature, go fishing and get a little exercise. In fact, when you are out on the water you are probably having so much fun that you don’t even realize you are also getting in a good workout.  However, you might be surprised to hear that kayaking for active recovery is one of the best exercises you can choose!

Let’s take a look at all of the great benefits of kayaking.

Kayaking for Active Recovery

Kayaking is a low-impact, safe way to get some exercise and get back into shape when recovering from a physical injury.  That’s because muscles used in kayaking do not engage the body’s larger muscles, like the thighs and buttocks.  The bigger the muscles, the more oxygen they need, which is why running hard or other cardio activities leave you breathless when you are trying to get back into shape. 

Kayaking has everything you need for a low-impact workout because it provides both cardio and strength training that is easy on your joints, bones, and connective tissues. This is especially important if you are looking for an activity that will support your active recovery. Kayaking has a lot of appeal for individuals with arthritis, soft tissue injuries, or individuals trying to avoid mechanical injury.

With kayaking, your arms don’t have to be super strong, and you don’t have to paddle aggressively to benefit from paddling a kayak.

Proper Kayaking Technique for Saftey

It is very important to follow proper form if you decide to choose kayaking for active recovery or for injury rehab and prehab.

Here are some great technique suggestions from a kayaking professional:

  • Start by sitting in your kayak on flat water and hold your paddle such that a square is formed between your arms, chest, and paddle. If you lock your elbows you will find that the only way to paddle is to do so by twisting with your core.
  • Now, relax your elbows and continue to paddle using the twisting motion leaving your arms to push and pull at the end of the stroke. Using torso rotation will help prevent common muscle and joint injuries by transferring much of the stress of paddling from your weaker arm muscles and joints to your stronger core muscles. It takes some time to get used to but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts by tiring out more slowly and suffering fewer aches and pains.
  • Also, a proper paddling position; sitting upright or slightly forward with your lower back slightly pressed against the back band will take a lot of strain off of your back. Lounging against your back-band is a nice way to relax in a protected cove but chronic slouching while paddling is a recipe for lower-back troubles.
kayaking on the river

Health Benefits of Kayaking

Kayaking has many other health benefits as well:

  • Weight Loss – You can burn up to 500 calories per hour just by paddling at an average speed of 5MPH!
  • Build Upper-Body Strength – You will build your muscles and strengthen your shoulders, chest, and back
  • Build Lower-Body Strength – By paddling, you also develop your leg strength because you are making movements to help you balance
  • Build Core Strength – Your core helps you stay balanced and centered when you are kayaking.  As you paddle, your abs and obliques get involved which benefits your core and builds strength
  • Improve Heart Health – You are probably not surprised by this one.  The longer you paddle, the better it is for your heart!
  • Improve Endurance – The more you get out and explore, the further you will want to go out on the water which naturally builds your endurance
  • Improve Focus – The same chemicals that improve emotional health also help improve your focus
  • Improve Memory – A special part of your brain called the hippocampus gets a workout too! This is great news because this part of your brain helps with learning and verbal memory.
  • Lowers stress levels – just being out on the water has a calming effect
  • Boosts your mood – Paddling can help with depression and anxiety
  • Builds Self-confidence – Overcoming challenges always builds confidence
  • Protects your joints – Since kayaking is a low-impact activity, your joints will not suffer injury compared to other activities
  • Improves Sleep – After a long day of paddling on the water, you will drift right off to sleep that evening!
  • Lowers Blood Sugar – It’s a great exercise to keep blood sugar under control

These are just a few health benefits and great reasons to get out there and go kayaking! When you decide to get out there, don’t forget the kayaking essentials and your personal flotation device/life jacket.

kayaking with kids

It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, kayaking is a great way to get in shape, recover from injury, lose weight and improve your well-being! Choosing kayaking for active recovery will help your body stay strong and loose on those days when you’re not strength training.

For more information and tips about kayaking, please visit our friend’s blog Path and Paddle.

Thanks, and Happy Paddling!

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