How Many Calories Does Kayaking burn? – Will I Lose Weight?

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Kayaking is a great way to keep fit and burn a few calories as well as being fun and enjoyable- many people spend hours in the gym desperate to burn off some extra calories but could kayaking be a better option?

The main two ways in which Kayaking uses your body are:

1)  Using your lower back and abdominal muscles to help balance the boat.

2) Using your upper body muscles to paddle and manoeuvre the kayak.

How many calories does Kayaking burn?

The amount of calories burned from Kayaking can vary depending on the speed you are moving- moving at a faster pace will engage your muscles more therefore burning more calories.

Many people agree that Kayaking is a much better method of burning calories than other traditional means because it is an exciting way to exercise- millions of people drag themselves to the gym for hours each day to burn those calories but why not do it at a cheaper cost and surrounded by nature?

Does kayaking burn more calories than running?

Types of Kayaking

The question ‘How many calories does Kayaking burn?’ may be simple, but the answer can be more complicated than just a number.

Depending on the type of Kayaking you are practicing, the amount of calories being burned can vary drastically. More strenuous types of Kayaking such as White water Kayaking or long-distance sea kayaking will burn more calories per hour than other types of Kayaking such as recreational Kayaking because the more energy you use, the more calories you will burn. 

This does not mean that recreational kayaking isn’t a good way to burn calories, it just means that you won’t burn quite as many as if you chose a more intense type of kayaking.

does kayaking build muscle

Health Benefits of Kayaking

There are plenty of health benefits that come with Kayaking, some of which may surprise you.

1) Weight loss

Kayaking is a great way of losing some extra weight- if you spend a few hours kayaking you will realise you can get quite tired.

Of course, the more you exert yourself, the more calories you will burn just like in any other type of exercise- the difference is that when you are kayaking you are using a lot of different areas all at once which could be more beneficial than going to the gym and just training one area of your body.

Weight loss also goes alongside a healthy balanced diet and diet can play a big factor when it comes to losing weight.

2) Vitamin D

We all know that Vitamin D is beneficial in many ways but it is one of the hardest nutrients to get from food- studies show that 80% of Vitamin D is taken in from sunlight. Getting out on your kayak in the sunlight is a great way to get plenty of Vitamin D into your body and give you an energy boost.

3) Reducing stress

Kayaking is a great way to use exercise to reduce stress- studies have shown that exertion of energy can help reduce stress- pair this with gliding along the water surrounded by nature and you have the perfect stress reducing activity.

4) Strengthening and toning muscles

Kayaking can strengthen your core muscles which are made up of the upper and lower abdominal muscles, this is because you use your core to balance the boat as well as to help steer and turn the boat.

Many people believe that kayaking is not beneficial when it comes to tone your legs but this is in fact false. Your legs apply pressure to move and turn the kayak which can actually tone your leg muscles.

5) Building stamina

If you are kayaking regularly then it will condition your body, by exercising your lungs and heart you are building stamina. As well as strengthening muscles,  kayaking is a core-driven exercise which means you also build stamina from using your abdominal muscles.

Calories burned kayaking upstream

What parts of the body benefit from kayaking?

Kayaking is a great workout especially for your chest, abdomen, hands, arms, and shoulders as these are the main target areas of this exercise. A one-hour workout from kayaking can provide much more work for the muscle groups listed than a gym session.

1) Chest 

The chest is involved heavily when it comes to kayaking. One arm counters the other which moves backward with a forward push- in gym terms this is similar to a dumbbell bench press- consistently doing this to keep the kayak moving uses the pectoral muscles to pull the arm whilst keeping the shoulder stable. 

2) Back

The back is another key muscle which is used when kayaking, from the motion of paddling is similar to being on a rowing machine.

The lats also get a good workout from kayaking- this happens because as one arm rows back, the other arm is stretched and then contracts. The good news is that you can intensify your back workout by adjusting the width of your arms on the paddle or even pulling as hard as possible.

3) Abs

The obliques and abdomen are involved heavily when it comes to kayaking, this is because with every rotational movement you are using your obliques and abdomen to support yourself as well as to increase the force in which you are paddling.

4) Biceps 

The biceps and triceps get a good workout from kayaking because as the one arm extends forwards, the other moves back and hits the biceps on one side to create more torque on the paddle.

As well as this, your forearms also get a great workout from maneuvering and handling the paddle.

5) Shoulders

When working the back, you are always working the shoulders. Kayaking provides the shoulders with an excellent workout because the paddle has to move up and around, this transfers the weight from the lats to the shoulders and works the anterior, lateral, and rear deltoids.

If you are looking for a great, full body workout then kayaking is definitely a brilliant option because it builds muscles as well as providing a great cardio workout.

calories burned from kayaking

How many calories does Kayaking burn?

The number of calories burned whilst Kayaking can vary depending on a few factors. Paddling along gently at a slow place will probably not be greatly beneficial when it comes to burning calories- just like any other exercise, you have to put the effort in to receive the benefits.

The fundamental factors which will decide the amount of calories burned whilst kayaking include how long you spend on the water, the weight of the paddler and the intensity of the kayaking session.

Here is a table to help you work out the amount of calories you will burn from one hour of kayaking- find out how many calories you will burn.


1 hr/ moderate effort 

1 hr/ Intense

1hr/ Extreme  













There are many different intensities of a kayaking workout, how hard you work will be a huge factor in the number of calories you will burn. The more you head out on your kayak, the easier it will get as you build up strength and stamina. 

We hope this article helped you learn more about how many calories are burned when kayaking aswell as the health benefits it provides.

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