Calories Burned Per Hour of Kayaking

People sea-kayaking

You may envision yourself spending hours at the gym every day if your goal is to get fit. But you don’t always have to be locked inside a gym to make fitness progress. You can get into shape and burn calories by trying new outdoor activities, like kayaking, paddle-boarding or swimming.


Kayaking may look fun from afar, but it can also be an intense upper-body workout. You may burn up to 150-300 or more calories per hour while kayaking depending on your weight. And you can really work your arms, shoulders, back and abdomen by switching up your speed and tempo.

Calculate Your Weight

Whenever you want to calculate how many calories you’ll burn while doing an activity, you first need to know your weight. The less you weigh, the fewer calories you’ll burn. A 125-pound person cycling on a stationary bike, for example, would burn about 400 calories per hour — while a 185-pound person would burn up to 600 calories in that same time, according to Harvard Health.

The calories burned while kayaking, meanwhile, would be a bit less than what you’d burn doing more intense full-body aerobic exercises like swimming or running. A 125-pound person would burn about 300 calories per hour kayaking, while someone who weighed more would burn over 400 calories per hour.

Work Your Heart And Muscles

Kayaking may not be the first workout routine that comes to mind when you’re planning on becoming aerobically fit or building up muscle, but it can actually be an excellent way to do both. First, kayaking can be an intense aerobic exercise, working both your heart and your lungs.

While kayaking mostly targets your upper body, it can also really work your back muscles, as well as your chest and core. You’ll primarily be using your back muscles, including your upper trapezius, rhomboids and lower trapezius — as well as your shoulder muscles, like posterior deltoids.

Be prepared to give your biceps and triceps a workout, as well as your forearms and hands as you hold the paddle. Even your legs will do some work to stabilize you in the kayak as you paddle.

And kayaking doesn’t have to just be for fitness gurus or elite athletes. It can possibly be beneficial to older adults or people who can’t run or do other high-impact exercises. A June 2018 study published in Medical Science Monitor found that ground kayaking improved posture, muscle performance and even cognitive function in a group of older adults.

Increase The Intensity

The calories burned while kayaking also depend partially on how intensely you’re paddling or the kind of water you’re in. There are various types of kayaking you can tackle, including lengthy touring, which often happens on a larger body of water like a big lake and could be a good aerobic exercise.

Sea kayaking, meanwhile, will get you working to paddle amongst the waves, which can get choppy. And whitewater kayaking may be reserved for more serious and trained kayakers, as the rushing water and rocks along the route can become unpredictable and require quick motions and maneuvering. Finally, there’s also surf kayaking, or essentially surfing but in a kayak.

There are also different types of kayaking strokes, like the forward stroke, the back stroke and the draw stroke, which moves the kayak sideways. Increase your intensity and calories burned while kayaking by switching up the strokes to work different muscle groups, and increase your tempo over a longer period of time to get the cardiovascular benefits.

Get Out In Nature

One of the key parts of kayaking is getting outside and out into a body of water to paddle. Whether you’re paddling in gently lapping ocean waves or you’re tumbling along a whitewater rafting route, kayaking can be your vessel to adventures in the outdoors.

Not only can kayaking be fun and provide you with new scenery to check out, but it also immerses you in nature, which has its own health benefits. Being out in nature or forests can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and boost your mood and ability to focus, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

It goes without saying that getting your exercise outdoors can add a plethora of extra benefits to your fitness routine — including simply making you feel happier.

An August 2016 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that positive emotions towards the activity you’re doing help you maintain an exercise routine. In other words, if you’re enjoying your workout, you’ll be more likely to adhere to it on a consistent basis, which is just one more reason to give kayaking a try.