Kayaking is often associated with lakeside vacations, but kayaking is so much more than that. From a relaxing recreational experience to an invigorating and challenging whitewater rafting trip, there’s a type of kayaking for everyone.  We’ve got 10  inspiring benefits of kayaking and what you need to know to get you motivated to get out and paddle.

If you’ve ever wondered why people kayak, or why you should try it, you’re about to find out. First, let’s start with what exactly kayaking is, and then get to why your body will thank you for getting into this awesome hobby.

Finally, we have some tips for beginning kayakers that will make your time on the water even better. Let’s dive in!

What Is Kayaking?

woman kayaking on lake during daytime

Kayaking is a versatile water sport that involves sitting in a small boat (kayak) and paddling with a double-bladed oar to steer and propel you in different directions. It’s been around for thousands of years. Because of the versatility of kayaking, kayaks come in many sizes, shapes, and types.

While kayaks come in a variety of styles, most kayaks traditionally have an enclosed cover over your legs; but some kayaks, like sea kayaks, are more open. Recently, sit-on-top kayaks that don’t have an enclosed cover over the legs have also been gaining popularity for certain types of kayaking.

Regardless of the type of kayak, they all sit very low in the water, so you’re almost at sea level. Most commonly, kayaks are made to fit one person, but tandem kayaks allow two people to kayak at once, and some even accommodate three people.

Whether you want a relaxing way to connect with nature or a daring and strenuous adventure, there are so many ways to enjoy the benefits of kayaking.

Different Types of Kayaking

If you are looking for the difference between a canoe and a kayak, we have that answer here. Like there are several types of Kayaks out there, there are also different types of kayaking:


Recreational kayaking is the most relaxing way to kayak. This style of kayaking is the one you commonly see on lakes or small rivers. Recreational kayaks are usually wide and stable and are the easiest way to enjoy the benefits of kayaking. You don’t need any experience to paddle recreationally, and these kayaks are suitable for anyone to try, from children to adults.

recreational kayakers on a bay


Touring takes kayaking to the next level and is the style used for kayaking on larger bodies of water, like the Great Lakes. These kayaks are longer and more narrow, making them better suited for handling currents and waves. These longer, more narrow kayaks also provide more speed and efficiency in the water. Speed and efficiency are necessary because often, touring involves kayaking across long distances over many hours or even days.


Sea kayaking is done on large open bodies of water, that are harder to navigate. These kayaks are heavier and longer. Sea kayaks come with additional storage space and latches, allowing kayakers to store necessary gear. Sea kayaks are designed for efficiency, cargo capacity, and comfort for long trips on strenuous waters. They can handle sizeable waves.

whitewater kayaking man with a blue paddle in whitecaps


White water kayaking is for rivers, streams, and creeks where rapids or whitewater occur. White water kayaks are usually shorter and stubbier than other kayaks, making them better for easy turning and rolling. There are different levels of white water rafting, and this type of kayaking is more dangerous and strenuous but also very invigorating.


Believe it or not, kayaks can also be used for surfing. Kayak surfing is generally done using a white water kayak or sea/ocean kayak. This type of kayaking is essentially the same as traditional surfing, but instead of standing on a board, you sit in a kayak and use a paddle. As you can probably tell, this type of kayaking can be dangerous and requires some experience and practice.

woman in a sit on top ocean kayak


As we mentioned before, sit-on-top kayaks have been growing in popularity. Unlike traditional kayaks where you sit inside the kayak with your legs covered, with these kayaks you sit on top, and there is no covering. Sit-on-top kayaks are used for recreational kayaking and specialized activities like fishing or snorkeling.

Who Can Enjoy Kayaking?

While more advanced paddling, like kayak surfing, require experience and specific skill, for most other types anyone can enjoy the benefits of kayaking.

Recreational kayaking can be enjoyed by those of all fitness levels and ages. As long as you can get in the kayak, you’re ready to start. For kayaking, it’s helpful if you can swim in case you tip over, but it’s not a requirement.

two kids kayaking

If you go kayaking with a guide or take a class, you can enjoy recreational kayaking even without swimming skills. In these circumstances, you will be provided with a personal flotation device and expert assistance.

10 Benefits of Kayaking

Kayaking is an extremely healthy and lower-impact exercise activity that reaps a ton of real benefits. Here is a list of 10 of them.

1. Weight Loss

There are lots of ways to lose weight, but they’re not all enjoyable. One of the most significant benefits of kayaking is that you can lose weight while having the best time. An hour of kayaking at just about 5mph can burn 400 calories.

Muscles Does Kayaking Work

2. Muscle Toning and Strengthening

Not only does kayaking help you lose weight, but it delivers the whole package by helping you tone up your muscles and get stronger too. You use your entire upper body to paddle, which means one of the benefits of kayaking is achieving toned and strengthened muscles.

So many, we wrote an entire article on the muscles that kayaking works out, here!

3. Stress Relief

Both exercise and spending time outdoors immersed in nature have been proven to reduce stress, and with kayaking, you get both. No matter what is stressing you out, paddling out on the water and spending a couple of hours moving with nature will have you feeling much better.

4. Increased Happiness

Exercise and spending time outdoors in nature triggers the release of serotonin and dopamine in our bodies. Serotonin and dopamine both promote feelings of happiness, so spending some time kayaking can bring more happiness into your life.

do sleeping in a kayak with owner paddling

5. Confidence

Whether you’re facing challenges while white water rafting or taking on a longer distance than your last kayak session on a lake, you’re accomplishing something. These accomplishments, no matter how small, can lead to a better self-image.

6. Easy on the Joints

Not only does kayaking help you lose weight and tone muscles, but another one of the benefits of kayaking is that it’s still a low impact activity. Since kayaking is a low impact activity, it puts less stress on joints and tissues, which is great news for older kayakers or those recovering from injuries.

7. Vitamin D Boost

Vitamin D is essential for health, and one of the best ways to get it is by spending a little time out in the sunshine. It might not always be sunny when you kayak, but when it is, one of the benefits of kayaking is boosting your Vitamin D.

woman in a kayak enjoying the sun and the vitamin D

8. Improves Heart Health

The pressure and strenuous movement from paddling are great for strengthening muscles, but kayaking is also an aerobic exercise. The brisk and continuous movement are more benefits of kayaking that lead to improved heart health.

9. Adventure

So many people deal with feeling bored or not having enough fun in life. Kayaking is a great exercise, but it’s more than that; it’s a great adventure too. Kayaking can give you something to look forward to and create a source of adventure and fun in your life.

10. A Truly Versatile Hobby

Often, different members of your family may have different outdoor activities they love. One adores camping, while another just wants to fish. Well, you can kayak and fish. You can also Kayak and camp, you can take inflatable kayaks and backpack, too.

This hobby fits well with other outdoor enthusiast’s pursuits. You can enjoy just about any outdoor activity, from camping to day-trekking, and it’s made better with a kayak. Anything that makes getting outdoors more fun makes it easier for your family to get the benefits of that activity.

If you are ready to embark on your first adventure or are new to kayaking, these tips help improve your experience.

Tips for First Time Kayakers

If you are planning on starting this awesome sport, here are some tips for you!

Dress for the Water

Kayaking is a water sport, so there’s the chance of getting wet even if you don’t tip over. It’s best to dress for the water temperature, which means wearing a wet suit if the water is cold or sticking to regular swimwear if the water is warm.

two buddies kayaking with proper safety gear

Use Water Proof Bags/Storage Containers

Your stuff can get wet on a kayak too. Keep it dry using a dry bag or another proven waterproof container for your electronics, wallet, and snacks.

Practice Basic Paddling

Knowing how to paddle properly will make your kayaking experience more enjoyable, easier, and more efficient. Ask a friend who knows how to kayak to show you a few things, take a lesson, or watch some YouTube videos to better understand paddling.

Take Safety Precautions

We know it’s a cliche, but it is always better to be safe than sorry, and with kayaking, it’s best to learn some safety best practices. For example, if you’re going white water rafting, read up on white water rafting safety. If you’re paddling out on a river, take some time to learn the basics, like the difference between a downstream and upstream “V.”

group of kayakers on the water in safety gear and vests, d

Don’t Paddle Solo

When you’re just getting started with kayaking, it’s normal to feel nervous or uncomfortable on the water. Making sure you’re not alone will help ease some of that worry.

Paddling Ahead

One of the great things about kayaking is that it’s so versatile, from serene lakes to intense rapids there’s a level of kayaking to match all interests. Even better, anyone can start recreational kayaking, right now. From mental to physical health, there are so many benefits of kayaking, so what are you waiting for? It’s time to get out and paddle.