Kayaking=smaller tummy

Hi all!
I’m an avid, basically skilled and modestly strong kayaker that can’t quite find myself in a kayak nearly as often as I’d like to. On my 45 minute drive home from work here in Northeast Florida, I drive past several easy put-ins that would be great for a quick opportunity for a brief paddle. Not only to wash away some stressors from the day, but for a nice workout before getting home for dinner. Not every day necessarily, but at least maybe a couple times on a good week. Well, my wife, (and daughters), know I love to kayak but it’s not her/their thing really at all, and therefore they’re a bit skeptical when I talk about what a great workout a rigorous paddle can provide. I think my family just sees me using exercise and some weight loss as an excuse to be on the water. Sort of is I guess, but I’m trying to find some facts that compare a good intense paddling session to jogging, fast walking and so forth. I’m not trying to compare it to these folks doing the ridiculous peloton biking or major workouts. I just want to roughly compare an hour of GOOD kayaking to an hour long brisk walk or something similar. It seems that a lot of the folks trying to do the convincing on kayaking as exercise are obviously biased towards it as a great workout, like me, but I’m trying to convince (mostly my wife) that sure, I enjoy paddling, but when it’s done right it can be a TRUE workout. Any shortcuts to some facts would be greatly appreciated. Especially if said information doesn’t make me sound like I’m just trying to sell the idea!

Google is your friend. Here are three articles that may have what you are looking for, found with a bit of searching, many more available:

How many calories are burned when I go kayaking? (outdoorsportsgearreviews.com)

11 Calorie-Burning Water Sports for the Perfect Beach Body - BookSurfCamps.com

How Many Calories Does Kayaking Burn? (ponceinletwatersports.com)


Me too. That should be enough.


I feel great after a good 12-20 miles. Especially the next morning. Maybe in my head but gut feels tighter.

Quoting from medical research: It can be concluded that flatwater kayaking is characterised by exceptional demands on upper body performance. A successful kayaker not only requires high aerobic power, but a high anaerobic energy yield and great upper body muscle strength is also of great importance.

There’s other studies out there. Just use “medical research, kayak” as your search terms.

You might point out that kayaking keeps your heart healthy and reduces the stress that they and work create.
My wife figured that out a few decades ago.

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If it was me I’d just say, “Jimmy is stressed. Jimmy feels fat. Jimmy’s going kayaking.”


Running is lower body. Kayaking is upper body…do both.
Having to explain to family is a foreign concept to me. It’s not an affair or cocaine, so what’s to explain?


Using my legs to drive unless I’m just lazy floating.

It’s like anything, you can make it into a great workout, or you can sit there and float. Walking can be great exercise if you walk really fast or uphill or both. At a slow pace on flat ground less so. Still, any form of exercise is much better than none, and being outside on the water definitely reduces stress. So no matter how hard you push, the way I see it, it’s certainly a health-giving activity.

According to my Apple Watch, I actually burn more calories by kayaking than swimming, which kinda surprised me. But I suspect that could be they tend not to give full credit for kick sets since your watch arm isn’t moving much.

Exercise apart; and your family can access all the relevant information, it is for me, the simple beauty of being out on the water. Seeing the coast from a different aspect is nothing like looking out to sea from the beach. To be able to access beaches that cannot be accessed too easily landward. How about asking your family to canoe as a unit and share the burden of paddling. A night out under the stars and an early morning wake up call to see the rising sun. I was a reservist and nurse and wake up at 04:55. Seeing the stars slowly disappear and the sun rise makes the outdoor experience more pleasurable.

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One thing you need to do. Take your kayak to work with you and make your 45 minute ride home an hour and 45 minutes by stopping and putting your boat in at those lovely spots.

How much kayaking helps depends, physiologically, on how you paddle. If you paddle predominately with your elbows, it doesn’t do much. If you can get your paddling technique down to you hips it can do a lot of good.

In these times any exercise is better than none, so take advantage of every opportunity .

Best of luck to you.

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This past summer I bought another kayak so we (wife and I) could both go out and she fell in love with it. Now she has been working out all winter (up here all water is in the solid state for 5 months) with the goal of being strong enough to able to get back into the kayak if she ends up in the drink. The benefit that I have found is just as much psychological as it is physical. I got out this week for the first time since October and I totally feel the psychological benefits.

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Put the boat on the car. Stop where you wanted to paddle and get it wet. When you get home in your shorts carrying your PFD and the wife asks where you have been, tell her you were at the strip club.
As long as you are not taking away from your family, AND there is a possibility that they might enjoy it with you, do it. I put skiing on hold for a lot of years because the wife didnt want to. Finally I said to the family “The bus pulls out at 0700 to go skiing. If you want to go, be on it. If you dont, I am going skiing.” 2 out of 3 kids picked up the sport.


I run. A lot. My body is conditioned to run. My heart rate averages 135-150 for two, three hours. When I paddle, there’s no way t can get my HR that high, as my body isn’t conditioned for vigorous paddling for long periods of time. Maybe if I trained as hard as I run this could even out. But the only time my HR ever gets high is in exciting, choppy water, and never for that long.


Thanks everyone! This wasn’t like my kayaking was going to start any kind of real argument. More or less just a little ribbing like “Oh…daddy’s exercising again…” it’s nice to have some facts from sources not biased FOR paddling.
And, of course, it’s raining all day today! My weekend!

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I burn maybe more calories pulling it across the road, hoisting it on and off the roof, dragging it down and up the beach,honestly. I know for a fact, this cardio, strength, work, getting in and out, up and down, loaded unloaded burns absolutely at least as much weight, for me. Go ahead and laugh

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Jimmy, you don’t have to justify going kayaking. Do you demand your wife and kid’s justify doing everything they find enjoyable? If you like doing it, it’s not like you’re doing meth and picking up hookers. Just hit the lake and have a good time. As long as your hobby isn’t making you a bad husband or father, stop worrying. And it is exercise. You are the one who decides the intensity. It’s like what’s better for you, walking or running? Alot of doctors would tell you there are benefits to them both. Go out and enjoy life.

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