For the health of it

Interesting NYT article on paddling.

This report contains a summary of paddler motivations (p. 20) that suggests that exercise is a primary motivation for many paddlers. Personally I don’t know how to rank order the things I love about paddling but exercise is one of them; this time of year I can cut back on my cardio since I paddle often.

I got into cycling this spring early. I see that paddling burns a lot more calories. Feels like paddling is more full body when I’m pushing whish is 90% of the time. Bike is good to I can pop in it and do 6 - 25 miles with little prep unlike kayak especially in the winter. Good combo for all year. I’ll get rollers for bike in the winter during rain or snow.

It is possible that paddling engages more muscle groups but for myself, cycling burns far more calories than even hard paddling.

I have done a lot of cycling with a heart rate monitor and I have also used one when paddling. When cycling it is very easy to get my heart rate up to and above an aerobic threshold and into anaerobic territory very quickly.

I found that even when kayaking at a moderately high stroke cadence of over 60 strokes per minute it was difficult to nudge my heart rate up into my target aerobic zone.

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Guess it depends on how fast you’re going on or in each of them. Kayak 4-4.5 mph average on decent days with current and wind both ways. Usually 1.5-2 hr. continuous paddling. Bike maybe cruising 15-17 mph for 1.5 -2 hr. on flat ground on my Trek Domane. Less about 13 mph in neighborhood with corners and traffic. No heart monitor here yet.

I think 30 minutes in a kayak burns more than 30 minutes on a bike.

This brings up a question I’ve pondered (probably a separate thread):
If a running marathon is 26 miles, what is the equivilant (in miles) of a:

  • paddling (kayak and/or canoe) marathon
  • biking
  • swimming
  • other(?)

I paddle as much for my mental health as my physical health. There are all kinds of miles you can paddle. They can be easy and involve floating or they can be very taxing. I don’t discount getting the boat and gear to the river. That can be a whole process, involve lifting, carrying, or dragging heavy objects. Lately I’ve been doing some camping out of the boat and requires more energy.

Where ever I am paddling I like to experience the sensation of making progress. So wind in your face, paddling against a tide or waves, or just getting generally tired late in the day aren’t my favorite types of paddling.

I’m really sore today. Think stiff knees, hips and shoulders. I tried to keep up with the youngsters yesterday on the upper new river. No glassy wave went unsurfed and no play hole was passed up. A lot of that requires movement I don’t get from ordinary paddling. Twisting around for rudder strokes (surfing) and aggressively healing the boat put more strain on the body. I finished with some roll practice. Rolling requires a greater range of movement than what I typically do. All my ww buds say to do yoga. I sure that would help but I never seem to get around to it.

I do set goals for annual paddling miles, walking miles, and the exercise bike. I also track my roll practice, swimming, and even yard work. Having goals seem to help keep me motivated. When the paddling is tiring I remind myself of the easy days of floating. In the end nature calls the shots.

Here is my experience.

When riding a multi-speed, drop bar bicycle I aimed for a target heart rate of 140-155 bpm which I found very easy to achieve (too easy) while maintaining an average speed of around 18 mph. If I increased speed at all beyond that I exceeded entered my anaerobic zone.

While training for a downriver race in a stitch and glue Chesapeake Light Craft Patuxent 17.5, a reasonably quick boat but not a racing kayak, I paddled flat water on Harvey’s Lake, Pennsylvania. The circumference of the lake, closely following the shore, is just over 7.4 miles and I was shooting for, and usually achieved lap times of 1 1/2 hour, a speed very nearly 5 mph. When doing so my heart rate was typically in the 125-140 bpm range and never ventured close to the upper limit of my aerobic target zone.

Since oxygen consumption is closely correlated with heart rate, and calorie expenditure follows O2 consumption, clearly for me moderately vigorous bicycling burned more calories than quite vigorous kayak paddling on flat water.

I’ll have to borrow her fitbit

What were you paddling and the speed?

Strava & mapmyrun all show paddling burning more calories.

Here is a table showing estimated calorie expenditures for different activities for individuals of varying body mass. Obviously, these are only estimates but it might give you some idea.

The estimated calorie expenditure for a 180 lb person cycling at 16-19 mph is estimated to be 981 calories/hr. That is the same estimate as what is listed for “rowing machine, very vigorous” and “crew, sculling, rowing, competition”. But rowing on a sliding seat consumes more calories than paddling a canoe or kayak in a conventional manner because using a rowing machine or sculling employ the large muscles of the legs and buttocks to a much greater extent.

The calorie expenditures for swimming vary with stroke and intensity but are significantly less while calorie expenditures for running and cross country skiing are greater. Estimated calorie expenditure for a 180 lb person running miles in 8 minutes per mile is 1103 calories/hr and some people can maintain a faster pace, obviously.

If you really want to know how various activities you participate in vary with regard to calorie consumption, get a heart rate monitor and use it. The results are sometimes surprising.

thanks, quite an informative chart (I’m saving this away somewhere).

So, just for a ‘sample’, I’ll go with your 180lb person:
Runner 26miles (marathon) (for ease of calc, use: 25miles in 5 hours (5mph)): 654 calories x 5hours

from chart: kayak calories/hour for kayak for 180lb person = 409
409 x X_hours = (654 x 5), X_hours=8, assume the kayaker paddles at 4mph, kayak ‘marathon equivilant’ = 32miles
sounds low, maybe assume 5mph (pushing it, this is for the Epic paddlers) = 8x5 = 40 miles
paddling for 8 hours at 5mph I think would qualify
(that’s not me, I’ll paddle the 40 in 10hours)

Like with most of the world, kayaking is misunderstood by nutritional researchers.

First off, kayaking is a predominately upper body exercise, not a full body exercise. Don’t try to talk to me about how a wing paddle works and hip flexion.

If you want full body workout on the water sliding seat rowing is a full body workout.

Floating downstream does not burn anywhere near the calories of marathon races, especially if you are a real competitor. I have seen many localized races where the locals thought they knew what racing was, but were wrong.

I was involved in three studies by students doing fitness papers. All three said that marathon kayaking is one of the top calorie burners.

The reasoning was the extended time of a high heart rate, O2 usage, and pulse management.

Kayaking does need some cross-training for a full body workout, though. For me it is a bicycles and resistance training.

There’s a big part of the answer. Biking on flat ground at that speed is easy.

I have more than the proverbial 10,000 hrs of cycling, both touring and racing, and my GPS/fitness watch clearly shows higher avg HR than it does when paddling. And I am paddling a surf ski, using a wing paddle. Given that surf ski paddling is much newer to me, I expected HR to be higher than when cycling. Not so.

If I maintain a good steady speed paddling against a stiff wind, then the avg HR goes up, similar to what I get cycling. Short intervals without adverse wind will get the HR higher…IF the “ON” periods are longer than the “OFF” periods and if repeated enough times. Otherwise, my HR goes back down into the just-cruising range.

The legs get worked significantly harder on a bike ride or a mountain climb than they do paddling. They have big muscles. It’s no surprise that cycling, running, x-c skiing are so demanding of aerobic capacity. Now add in climbing and it’s obvious why.

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Personally I huff and puff quickly while biking for hours, and on the rowing machine I can last for half an hour. Kayaking I can huff and puff not for more than a few minutes. IMO what it boils down to is leg muscles are big so its easier to burn more biking.

Depends if you’re using your legs paddling no?

15-17 is an average speed for long distances by most.

Unless you are rowing or sculling on a sliding seat, you really aren’t engaging the big muscles of the lower body, the quadriceps and the gluteals, to any great extent.

Actually, the guys that I rode with considered a speed of 18 mph on flat ground to be about minimal speed for long, slow distance training. Some of them could maintain a 20 mph pace for LSD training but I was never that fit.

I already answered that question.

I drive with my legs they are getting used a lot.

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