How Many Calories Does Kayaking Burn?

How Many Calories Does Kayaking Burn

When we think of fitness, most of us automatically imagine a crowded gym, filled with honed physiques, heavy equipment, and a grueling regime. Imagine if we told you, however, that you could get fit and lean while breathing in the fresh air, taking in the view, and maybe even glimpsing a dolphin or two?

Kayaking is a super popular way to enjoy the great outdoors, get back to nature, relax, and unwind. But what about its benefits as a fitness technique? Did you ever ponder, can I lose weight on a kayak? And just how many calories does kayaking burn?

Key muscles worked:

  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
    • Triceps
    • Biceps
    • Forearms
    • Grip
  • Chest
  • Abs


Kayaking has the potential to be an amazing workout, which benefits every muscle group. From your arms to your back, abs to your shoulders, kayaking is an activity that can totally transform your body. Even better, the exercise will boost your mood, improve mental health, and offer you a rush of feel-good endorphins that are guaranteed to offer you a good time.

How Many Calories Does Paddling A Kayak Burn?

The official number of calories burnt will depend on three factors:

  • your size
  • Weight
  • How much of a workout you put in


Battling the elements on a series of rapids will prove far more of a challenge than a casual, lazy paddle down the river in the sunshine, but both will definitely offer benefits.

Research from the American Council on Exercise and the Harvard Health Publications suggests that a 125-pound paddler – about average weight – will burn roughly 283 calories per hour via kayaking, or 150 calories in around half an hour, while a slightly heavier weight, say around 150 pounds, will burn slightly more at 340 per hour.

As a general rule, the more weight, the more calories burnt. A 200-pound kayaker could burn up to an impressive 454 calories in a single hour on the water!

What Muscles Does Kayaking Workout?

As well as burning calories, kayaking can also offer a full-body workout, targeting several muscle groups. The movements required for kayaking are excellent for working the back and shoulders. To row, you need to move the paddle up and to the front, and this transfers weight from the lats to the shoulders, targeting the anterior, lateral, and rear deltoids in a single movement.

Labeled Anatomy Chart of Male Back Muscles on White Background.

The chest and pecs will also enjoy a workout, as the pectoral muscles work hard with each row, simultaneously pulling the arm while keeping the shoulder steady and stable. You can also enjoy a workout through the entire arm; triceps, biceps, forearms, and grips are all needed when you row, allowing for a great strength-building opportunity for the arms.

This is also perfect if you are crafting a six-pack; the movement of rowing is rotational, allowing a great workout for obliques and abdomen. If you are new to kayaking, you will find that your core is sore for a good few days! Over time, you will build strength and stability in this area which benefits you in everyday life.

Can Kayaking Build Muscle?

The repetitive nature of kayaking means that it is the perfect option for those looking to build muscles in their arms, backs, shoulders, and overall body. Because the activity targets every muscle group in the body, you will find yourself building muscle and gaining strength, allowing you to push further and faster with every workout. As you grow muscle, you will also lose weight, earning a double benefit

Does Kayaking Count As Cardio?

Kayaking is a workout that will get your heart pumping. It is repetitive, hard work, which uses your entire body. Moving the vessel across the water is tough on your body, making this a brilliant choice for interesting, exciting cardio – sure beats running for miles on a treadmill!

does kayaking count as cardio

Is Kayaking Better Cardio or Strength?

One of the major advantages of kayaking is that it works as both a cardio and a strength workout, allowing you to achieve maximum benefits with a single workout. The movement will raise your heart rate, allowing you to enjoy a quality cardio workout that can be adapted to your needs; go harder for a real push, or take it easy if you are tired.

The movements required to move and navigate the kayak will build muscle and strength across all areas of the body, especially your core. This means you can enjoy the best of both worlds, all while having fun on the water.

Is Kayaking A Good Way To Lose Weight?

Cardio allows you to burn calories, gain strength, and lose weight, all in one exercise. As a bonus, it is a lot of fun, and chances are it won’t even feel like a workout! Make sure you get into a regular routine, and maybe try combining your kayak trips with paddleboarding, swimming, or surfing to keep things exciting, and you will soon see that weight turn into muscle!

Strong young man in kayak burning calories

Is Kayaking A Good Form of Exercise?

Kayaking offers a chance to work every muscle in the body. It offers benefits for your core and working in this area will have a hugely beneficial impact on your entire body.

If your core is strong, you will find it easier to support yourself:

  •  Back
  • Neck
  • Spine


These are all crucial for staying strong and healthy. Regular kayaking also helps boost your overall strength and will leave you with a lean, mean physique in no time!

What Are the Benefits of Kayaking?

As well as offering numerous physical benefits, kayaking is also great for the mind. Unlike an indoor workout in a stale gym, you are out in the fresh air, taking in the water, and exploring the world around you.

Research shows that exercise releases endorphins in the body; this is the ‘feel-good’ hormone, and so regular exercise is a guaranteed way to boost your mood and well being.

The gorgeous views and natural surroundings are another bonus; maybe you will be lucky enough to enjoy a glimpse of the local dolphin and manatee residents or enjoy some of the stunning foliage and fauna on the banks of the river.

Silhouette of A girl practicing Yoga vrikshasana tree pose

No matter your experience, this intoxicating combination of positives will reel you in and are sure to be a great motivation to work out and kayak regularly.

Take The Plunge

Here at Ponce Inlet, watersports are our passion, and we want to make them yours. We have seen the benefits offered by kayaking first hand, and offer a chance for both beginners and veterans to take to the water and start having fun and working out in a controlled, safe environment.

Have you’ve ever wondered how long can a dolphin hold it’s breath?

Want to know exactly how to tie a fishing hook the right way?

Check out our How do Dolphins Sleep guide.

What are you waiting for? Get in touch today, and see how you could transform your workout routine for the better.

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