January 20, 2018

Calories Burned Kayaking, Paddleboarding and Canoeing

It’s not always easy to fit an hour long workout into a busy work week, and who wants to be stuck inside a gym on a beautiful Saturday afternoon? Fortunately, some of the most fun water activities are actually effective workouts too. And research shows that people who find what they enjoy, and tweak their workouts to reflect that, stay committed to their fitness goals and are motivated to continue in their physical pursuits.

When you grab your paddle to go kayaking, paddleboarding or canoeing, your heart rate increases, your muscles move in new ways and you burn fat faster than you would on land. Here’s a look at three activities that help burn calories. Calorie counts for each water sports activity are estimated based on a 180-pound person doing the activity for 30 minutes.


Calories burned canoeing

How many calories are burned canoeing?

About 102 calories for traditional canoeing and as high as 450 calories when competitively outrigger paddling.   

Canoeing relies heavily on the muscles around the shoulder joint as well as the core muscles and the forearms. A few hours spent canoeing down a river or around a lake and you’ll feel like you spent the day doing interval training at the gym, especially if there was a headwind.  Add in portaging, and you’ll have worked on developing upper-body strength, a strong core and leg endurance.  Spend a few hours training for your next distance OC-6 outrigger race and you'll feel like you just did the Ironman, having used every muscle in your body.  Finish this up with a super strength workout when you move your 400 pound outrigger canoe from the water to its resting place.

To burn even more calories canoeing, work in a few short bursts of high-intensity efforts with full rest in between. You can also try adding resistance by  tying a rope or a bungee cord around the front of your boat for specific strength training.  Be aware, the rope or cord does not need to be very thick to achieve results, while at the same time working your muscles but not overtaxing your joints.  


Calories burned kayaking

How many calories are burned kayaking?

About 205 calories.

Kayaking is a serious upper-body workout. Think of each stroke you take as a single-arm row, targeting your back, shoulders and arms. To produce more work for your hands, abdomen, chest and heart, vary the tempo — sprints, long sets, pulling as hard as possible — and width of your grip — wide grip or narrow grip. You could even try paddling backwards to mix it up and keep your muscles loose.

If you want to increase the intensity of the sport, take a touring kayak to a lake or another body of water without a moving water source, which will require more paddling and, therefore, may burn more calories. Kayaking in the ocean also requires quite a bit of balance and core strength. According to Harvard Health Publications, kayaking burns calories at about the same rate as skateboarding, snorkeling, softball and walking at an average pace of 4.5 mph.  Trade in your traditional kayak for a surf ski and you'll increase your calorie burn - and that increase will be significant if you are paddling competitively.  


Calories burned paddle boarding

How many calories are burned paddleboarding?

At least 123 calories.

 Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) offers the same upper-body workout that kayaking does. The main muscle groups that are activated are your mid-back muscles, shoulders, arms and abs. But it also works out your lower body because as you have to engage your quads, hamstrings and glutes to stay balanced. Whether you are paddling or just balancing on your board, SUP is a combination of balance, strength and endurance.

To increase your calorie burn, experiment with different categories of paddleboarding. For example, SUP surfing is a great cross-training workout, especially the bigger and rougher the waves. For a high-intensity workout, you can’t beat SUP racing, which can burn hundreds of calories an hour depending on your stroke intensity, stroke form, wind speed and water conditions.

Because paddling is a low-impact sport, it is ideal for many people. A long day on the water — whether canoeing, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding — can not only bring you joy but can also help you improve your health. 

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