Imagine gliding through the water, surrounded by nature, as you navigate a winding river or
explore a serene lake. Kayaking is not just an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon outdoors; it
also offers numerous physical and mental health benefits.

This low-impact, full-body workout strengthens your muscles, improves cardiovascular fitness,
and challenges balance and coordination. Read on to discover why kayaking is an excellent
workout and the specific muscle groups it benefits.

Why Kayaking Is a Good Workout

1. Endurance and Stamina

The repetitive motion of paddling helps to build endurance and stamina as you constantly push
yourself to keep moving through the water. Over time, this can improve athletic performance in
other activities and better overall fitness.

2. Cardiovascular Fitness
Kayaking is an aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate and oxygen consumption.
Regular aerobic activity can improve your cardiovascular fitness, helping to reduce your risk of
heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

3. Balance and Core Strength

Staying upright in a kayak requires constant adjustments and using your core muscles. This
helps improve your balance and stability, preventing injuries and improving performance in other
sports and daily activities.

4. Calorie Burning

Depending on the intensity and duration of your kayaking session, you can burn a significant
number of calories, making it an excellent option for those looking to lose or maintain a healthy

5. Low-impact Exercise

Unlike running or jumping, kayaking is gentle on your joints, making it an ideal workout for
people with joint pain or those recovering from injury. The buoyancy of the water supports your
body, reducing the strain on your joints as you paddle.

6. Balance and Coordination

Kayaking requires excellent balance and coordination, as you must constantly adjust your body
position to maintain stability in the water. These skills are essential for everyday life and can
help prevent falls and improve overall agility.

7. Mental Health Benefits

Being out on the water, surrounded by nature, can have a calming effect on your mind.
Kayaking is an excellent mindfulness practice and can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Muscles Targeted During Kayaking

1. Upper Body

Arms, shoulders, and upper back all play an essential role in the paddling motion. As you propel
yourself through the water, you engage the muscles in your forearms, biceps, triceps, deltoids,
and latissimus dorsi (the large muscles in your back). Over time, kayaking can increase strength
and definition in these muscle groups.

2. Core

Your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and lower back muscles, are also
engaged during kayaking. These muscles help maintain balance and stability while paddling
and are essential for generating power and maintaining proper technique.

3. Lower Body

Although your legs may not seem as involved in kayaking, they play a significant role in
maintaining stability and balance. As you paddle, you engage your hip flexors, quadriceps, and
hamstrings to help keep your lower body stable and maintain a strong base for your upper body
to work from. Over time, this can lead to increased strength and endurance in your lower body

4. Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff muscles, a group of four muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, are also
utilised during kayaking. These muscles help to stabilise the shoulder and enable smooth and
efficient movement during the paddling motion.

5. Stabilizer Muscles

Kayaking also engages smaller stabiliser muscles throughout your body, such as those in your
wrists, ankles, and feet. These muscles help support your joints and maintain proper alignment
as you paddle, contributing to overall strength and stability.


Kayaking is not only a fun and enjoyable way to explore the great outdoors, but it also offers a
comprehensive, low-impact workout that engages your entire body. With cardiovascular,
strength, balance, and coordination benefits, kayaking is an excellent addition to any fitness
routine. So grab a paddle, hit the water, and enjoy the numerous physical and mental health
benefits kayaking offers!

Want to try kayaking along River Thames for yourself? Moose Canoe Hire Thames is the best
Canoe, Kayak, and Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Rental Centre with our base on the River
Thames at Bisham Abbey. All our rental boats are stable, safe, clean and comfortable. Make a
booking to rent one today!