If you're looking for a great upper-body workout that's also plenty of fun, it's time to take up kayaking. By using the double-bladed kayak paddle, you can speed through the water, whether you're gliding across a flat sea, a choppy lake, or down a river. Even better, kayaking is easy to pick up. Beginners can make way in no time, and kids can learn to kayak in just a few minutes. This family-friendly activity makes a terrific workout!
Because of its focus on upper body power, kayaking is treasured as a cross-training exercise by runners and cyclists. Even if you're a casual athlete, you can reap the benefits of a day of kayaking. This sport works your abs, your lower back, upper back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, forearms, and pectorals. What's more, kayaking is a great aerobic workout that engages your heart, burns calories, and revs up your internal motor.
Because you do it in the great outdoors, many people consider kayaking to be more engaging that aerobic exercises done in a gym. You'll move faster than you would on foot, seeing more and exploring more open water. And because it's so silent, kayaking is a great way to get close to wild birds and animals.
For a great workout, try doing some easy intervals in your kayak. Paddle hard for about one minute (or fifty strokes), then at medium power for two or three minutes. Keep alternating your intensity. This is a great way to build muscle while you keep your aerobic level high.
As you kayak, be sure to prop your feet against the stirrups on the inside of your boat. Using your legs will give you more leverage and power in each stroke. But be sure to build up gradually. It's easy to go all out on your first day and wind up too sore to go out again. Better to go at a moderate level. If possible, plan some workouts before your kayak outing working on your core muscles. Work in exercises that involve twisting your abs and lower back, pulling a weight toward your chest (as in seated rows), and stretching your hamstrings and calf muscles.
When you're ready to go, find a personal floatation device that fits you well and won't ride up too much. Have an expert fit you with a paddle and an appropriate kayak, then hit the water. (And don't forget the helmet if you're going into moving water). Like most kayakers, you're going to have so much fun, you'll forget you're getting exercise at all!