July 25, 2022 9 min read

Calories Burnt Kayaking

Man on a kayak

Exercise isn’t just limited to unpleasant gyms and hour-long runs. In fact, you’ll be pleased to know that kayaking is a great form of low-impact exercise that actually burns more calories than you’d think.

Whether you’ve been kayaking for pleasure for numerous years, or if you’re looking for a relatively calm way to exercise, we’ve got all the information you need to know about burning calories while kayaking. 

How Many Calories Do You Burn While Kayaking?

smartwatch with calories count app

Although we can give a rough sum of the number of calories you can burn kayaking, the true number actually comes down to a few different factors. Some of these factors are out of your control, like age or sex, but here are some of the main factors that will come into play when determining how many calories you can burn while kayaking:

  • Sex- You may not know this, but males and females actually burn calories at different rates. Men in general burn more calories than women because they have less body fat and more muscle mass. Unfair for all the ladies out there, right?
  • Age - Younger paddlers will burn more calories than older paddlers. You see, once you get older, your body composition changes. When you do exercise, you begin to lose muscle mass instead of body fat. 
  • Body composition - Speaking of body composition, people who have a more lean muscle mass are usually more efficient at burning calories.
  • Body Weight - People with a higher weight will burn more calories than people with an average weight. In simple terms, the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn when kayaking.
  • Exercise duration - It’s common sense that if you exercise for five minutes, you’ll burn fewer calories than if you were to exercise for an hour. The longer you exercise, the more calories you’ll burn.
  • Exercise intensity - Along with duration, the more you try, the more calories you’re going to burn. Putting your all into paddling will burn more calories than paddling just a few times a minute. 

As you can see from all those factors, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact number. But, the average person who weighs around 200 pounds paddling with moderate effort would burn around 476 calories an hour kayaking. Alternatively, people who weigh around 125 lbs can burn 283 calories per hour kayaking.

Is Kayaking a Good Form of Exercise?

Man on a yellow kayak

Kayaking is a fantastic form of exercise that incorporates muscles all throughout your body. If you’ve ever been kayaking, and we mean, really kayaking, not just floating down a river, then you’ll know what we’re talking about. 

If done properly, kayaking is a great workout routine that requires the combined work of muscles in your back, shoulders, arms, chest, core, and legs. 

Other Benefits of Kayaking

Like many other forms of exercise, the advantages of kayaking don’t just end in burning calories. There are also plenty of other physical and mental health benefits that come from getting in your kayak and paddling over your favorite waterway. 

  • The vast majority of people can kayak, so it’s a great fitness routine for paddlers of all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities. 
  • It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Kayaking works to reduce stress and clear your mind.
  • As with all exercise, kayaking releases mood-enhancing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins.
  • It boosts your overall confidence.
  • Being out in the sun improves vitamin D deficiency.
  • It’s a great way to meet new people with like-minded interests. 

Is Kayaking a Form of Cardio?

Cardio is hated by many, but what if we told you it doesn’t have to be? Kayaking not only works for the muscle groups in your back, legs, arms, and chest, but it also works for your heart. 

Paddling at a moderate to fast speed will get your heart pumping, making it an excellent low-impact cardio session that puts you outside in nature. It sure beats being cooped up in a confined gym, doesn’t it?

Can Kayaking Help You Lose Weight?

Woman on a black top

Losing weight isn’t easy as many people think, and there are two things you need to pay close attention to when trying to drop a few pounds. These two factors are the amount of exercise you’re doing and your diet.

To lose weight, you need to be in what is known as a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is when you’re burning more calories than what you’re taking in, which is why the amount of exercise you’re doing and the food you’re eating play a huge role in losing weight. 

There are numerous applications that can help you figure out if you’re in a calorie deficit, and although cutting calories from your diet is a good step in the right direction, exercise helps to sustain the deficit. As we know, kayaking burns calories, so incorporating a weekly paddle into your exercise routine can help you lose weight over time. 

Calories Burned Kayaking VS Other Forms of Cardio

If you currently don’t regularly participate in physical activity, then it can be challenging to get yourself motivated to get up and do it. As you can see from comparing kayaking to other forms of exercise, it sits in the mid-range of calories burnt section. 

Sure, there are other forms of exercise that burn more calories per hour, but you may not find them as enjoyable as kayaking. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather burn fewer calories doing something I enjoy than burn more doing something that is a mental struggle to commit to.

Kayaking: 476 calories

Surfing: 430 calories

Biking: 485 calories

Running: 670 calories

Swimming: 500 calories

Spin Class: 500 calories

Walking Your Dog: 205 calories

Zumba: 600 calories

Skateboarding: 372 calories

Paddle Boarding: 460 calories

Ways to Burn More Calories Kayaking

Kayaking on a challenging waters

Kayaking is a great form of exercise on its own, but if you want to burn some extra calories, then there are a few things you could do.

Use the Correct Technique 

The first way to improve the number of calories burnt while kayaking is to practice a proper paddling technique. Learning to paddle a kayak with the correct form will not only help you engage all relevant muscle groups, but will also reduce the risk of injury and fatigue. 

When paddling correctly, you should feel each movement in your core muscles, upper body muscles, and in your legs. When you engage these muscles correctly, you’ll see a huge difference in the power of your strokes which, in turn, burns more calories. 

Kayak in More Challenging Waters

Paddling in more challenging waters is an excellent way to bump up the kayaking burn. If you’re experienced in doing so, that is. 

Hitting a series of rapids while whitewater kayaking requires you to engage your muscles and power through the water at faster speeds. Increasing the intensity of your paddle will increase the number of calories you burn.

Think of it as running. You’re going to burn more calories running than you will just by jogging or walking. The same goes with paddling.

Switching up your chosen waterway and water condition will actually help you find a new love for kayaking as well providing you with a great full-body workout. 

Add More Weight to Your Kayak

Now, this one you need to be careful with as all kayaks have a weight limit, but in order to burn more calories, you could add additional weight to your kayak. 

During your usual paddles, you want your kayak to be as light as possible so it can easily and effortlessly glide through the water. But, if you’re looking to burn calories, then adding more weight will create resistance and will require more effort to paddle it through the water.

Kayak Upstream

Another amazing way to intensify your workout is to paddle upstream. Although paddling downstream still burns calories, paddling upstream takes it to a whole new level. 

When you paddle upstream, you go against the flow of the water, which is far more difficult to paddle through. This type of paddling requires more power and energy, which burns more calories.

Paddle for Longer

We mentioned before that the longer you exercise, including kayaking, the more calories you’ll burn. And well, there is the answer to you burning more calories. Paddle for longer! If you usually paddle for an hour, try paddling for an hour and a half or two hours. That way, you’ll be burning more calories than you were before. 

Kayak with Friends

You’re probably wondering how kayaking with friends will help you burn calories, but actually, the answer is fairly simple. Have you ever heard the saying “time flies when you’re having fun”?

If so, you’ll know exactly what we mean. When you head out paddling with friends, you lose track of time and typically cover more distance than if you were paddling alone. We probably sound like a broken record by now, but paddling for longer burns more calories! So, grab your friends, grab your ‘yaks, and get out there.

The Importance of Exercise

Two kayakers on a transparent kayak

The physical and mental health benefits from regular exercise are hard to ignore. You see, people of all ages, sex, and physical abilities can benefit from regular daily exercise. 

Doctors suggest that humans should do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Whether that be taking a stroll through your local park or jumping on a kayak and paddling down your favorite waterway. The choice is really up to you!

And now that you know exercise doesn’t need to be mundane and boring, we hope you’re inspired to get up and get active. If you aren’t yet inspired, here are some of the incredible benefits of exercising regularly. 

Controls Your Weight

One of the main reasons to exercise is to control your weight. Whether that be for health reasons or for how you feel about your appearance. Doing exercise and eating healthy foods are what will help you shed some pounds. 

And we know that losing weight can be extremely difficult, so we highly suggest doing a form of exercise that you thoroughly enjoy. Kayaking and paddling boarding are great ways to burn calories as they are fun sports that don’t even feel like exercise. Especially if you take a friend out with you!

Put it this way, if you enjoy the exercise you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick to a consistent workout routine. 

Combats Diseases and Health Conditions

Exercise not only limits your chances of becoming obese but it also prevents serious health conditions. Regular exercise can help prevent or manage health problems such as strokes, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, and different types of cancer.

Boosts Energy

You’d think that doing exercise would drain all your energy, but actually, it does the complete opposite. Over time as your muscles and stamina improve, you’ll find you’ll have more energy than when you first started your fitness journey. 

Exercise delivers oxygen to tissues throughout your body which helps your cardiovascular system to work efficiently. Down the line, when your lung and heart health improves, you’ll have increased energy which will be apparent in your day-to-day life.

Improves Your Mood

Sometimes the hardest part is starting, but once you start, you’ll be so glad you did. Exercise stimulates chemicals in your brain that can lead to you feeling happier, relaxed, and less anxious. If you’ve had a bad day, try getting out and doing some exercise. Trust us, you’ll feel so much better after.

Improves How We Feel About Ourselves

Many people struggle with their self-image, and by doing exercise, we can actually boost our own confidence and self-esteem.

Promotes Better Sleep

Partaking in exercise can help you fall asleep faster and deeper than usual. But, with that being said, it’s best to avoid exercising right before bed as this will cause you to be too energized to sleep.

It’s Fun and Sociable

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, exercise doesn’t have to be boring! There are so many forms of exercise that you can do with your friends to make it even more enjoyable. You’ll also find that having an interest in a certain form of exercise will make you more sociable with other people who share those same interests. 


🏆 Is kayaking a good way to lose weight?

Kayaking is an excellent form of exercise as it is low impact and works muscles across your entire body. If you’re in a calorie deficit and are paddling with moderate effort, then you’ll be able to lose weight while kayaking. 

👍 How many calories burned leisurely kayaking?

The amount of calories burnt from person to person varies, but on average, a person who weighs around 200 pounds and is leisurely paddling would burn around 476 calories an hour kayaking. On the other hand, people who weigh around 125 lbs can burn roughly 283 calories per hour kayaking.

🏝️ Is kayaking a good form of exercise?

Kayaking is a fantastic low-impact full-body workout that people of all ages and abilities can partake in. It works muscles all over your body and, depending on how much effort you put in, burns a considerable amount of calories.

❓ Is kayaking good for belly fat?

Paddling with a proper technique engages your core and burns calories. Each stroke of your paddle will contract your abdominal muscles, which then builds core strength. 

Although kayaking is a low-impact sport, if you put in enough effort over time, you’ll be able to see weight loss results.

Megan Bryant
Megan Bryant

Based in Bali, her favorite SUP spot is the GILI Islands themselves. Travel is another passion of hers - she dreams to see the entire world one day.

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