Paddler on Lake Michigan at the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium. Door County, Wisconsin.
In the last “Paddling From The Beginning” post I gave you just some of the reasons we paddle. Today I want to talk just a bit about paddling for fitness.. for us average non-super athletic types.
I’ll never forget reading an interview with Israeli expedition paddler Hadas Feldman where she said something to the effect that she had to go on a major expedition every so often to simply avoid getting fat. Obviously she wasn’t serious, but that’s athleticism I understand! Certainly there are paddlers who go for the most efficient strokes, amazing speeds and all that. Bless their little souls! But most of us define fitness by simply staying active, alive and not getting too fat!
Paddling burns calories but like all exercise it’s not a solution in-of-itself. Depending on who you read, paddling can burn anywhere from 300 to 400 calories per hour depending on your weight and effort. (Keep in mind, that’s paddling, not floating along with the current.) Also If you stop off at Krispy Kreme on the way to the launch you’ve already shot your first hour or two of paddling right out the window. If you are going to paddle to lose weight, you have to cut out the calories in your diet as well. Well, most of the time. I lost over 25lbs in a month on one paddling trip without minding my calories. However, I paddled 8 hours or more per day over most of that time period. Once you start paddling long hours the bigger concern is often taking in enough calories. In a later post in this series we will talk about some good stuff to eat and drink when you are out on the water as well.
Another benefit of kayaking is simply toning up your muscles a bit. Paddling will improve muscle tone in your arms, back, chest and stomach. If you are doing it right, it will also help you to tone up your legs as well. In addition, if you really want to be a better paddler, you’ll soon find yourselfe including some off the water exercise as well. Put together it all helps you become more fit.
Ultimately there are many ways to lose weight and stay healthy. Often the biggest challenge to fitness and exercise is boredom and the feeling that we are depriving ourselves of the basic enjoyment of life. Paddling offers a way to exercise in an ever changing, non-repetitive environment which ultimately helps us to overcome exercise boredom. In fact you paddle for the fun of it. Fitness.. is just an accidental by-product.
Next we’ll talk a bit about gear.. First of all you need a PFD…
Discussion – Coaches & Experienced Paddlers: Have any paddling for fitness success stories? Tips?