How Many Calories Does Kayaking Burn?

When it comes to choosing a kind of exercise, it’s always interesting to know the health benefits and how it affects your body. We all know kayaking is really good exercise, but can it be a good exercise routine for calorie burning?

Answering the question “How many calories does kayaking burn?” is not a simple task. Obviously, how much you will burn depends on quite a few different factors, including your weight, the weight of your kayak, how fast you go, and things like water resistance and wind resistance. 

However, on average, a paddler that weighs 125 pounds will burn a little under 300 calories in one hour. The average person that weighs around 150 pounds will burn slightly more calories; just under 340 per hour.

How Many Calories Do I Burn While Kayaking?

It’s a challenge to accurately measure how many calories a kayaking trip will burn because there are a lot of variables, and things like water resistance and wind will change from trip to trip. You may also carry more gear sometimes, which will increase the calories burned kayaking.

The basic principle of any physical activity is that calories are burned in direct proportion to the exercise intensity, so if you are paddling with vigorous effort and you yourself carry more weight, you will burn more calories with every stroke. Similarly, if you are striving against strong winds or currents, you will burn extra calories.

However, it is possible to get some rough averages. A paddler who weighs 125 pounds should have about 283 calories burned per hour of kayaking.

If you carry more body weight, at around 200 pounds, you’ll burn about 450 calories in an hour of paddling! 300 calories for someone who weighs 130 pounds, and 400 calories for someone who weighs 175 pounds. 

Those are some impressive numbers that might appeal if you are looking to lose weight!

Of course, if you set a more relaxed pace and drift with the currents, you will burn fewer calories, but kayaking is still a great aerobic exercise for your entire body if you’re looking to burn off a bit of energy and get fit. It’s so much fun no matter how many calories you burn, and being out in nature may help to boost your mental health.

A lot of people take up kayaking for the fun of it, and that’s one of the best things about this sport. It doesn’t feel like a workout or a challenge, and it’s easy to get your heart pumping in a kayaking workout on the water and have a good time while you’re burning calories!

What Muscles Do I Exercise While Kayaking?

It’s also important to think about what parts of your body are benefiting from the exercise you are doing, so what muscles are targeted by paddling?

It won’t surprise you to learn that most of them are in the shoulders and the back. 

In order to move the kayak, you will be constantly putting at least moderate effort into turning and dipping the paddle and pushing against the water. As you move the paddle back and forth with proper technique, you will be targeting your shoulder muscles and back muscles.

You will find that the anterior, lateral, and deltoid muscles are all working to move the paddle, and you will also be engaging your chest and abdominal muscles too. Since you need to maintain your balance in the boat, your core muscles will be engaged constantly while you are on the water, helping you burn calories even when you aren’t paddling.

Furthermore, it targets lower muscle groups, and offers a quick method for developing a six pack, because you will be constantly turning your body from side to side to paddle.

Your arms will also get a great workout, along the forearms, triceps, and biceps. If you’re looking for well-muscled arms, kayaking provides a great workout routine!

Don’t underestimate kayaking or assume that the only advantage will be to your arms, because it certainly isn’t! Admittedly, kayaking does not directly exercise your leg muscles as much, but getting in and out of the kayak, carrying it to the water, and lifting and maneuvering it will provide a good fitness routine for them too.

You can expect to be very sore after a day of kayaking and getting in and out of the water. There is no question that this provides a great workout and you need to be careful not to overdo it while your body adjusts to the regular exercise.

With time, you should find you develop some impressive muscles from the full body workout kayaking provides. Since kayaking burns calories you’re likely to enjoy the weight loss kayaking can offer.


Does kayaking count as cardio or strength training?

Kayaking is both! Paddling fast is great cardiovascular exercise because it raises your heart rate; it is also very easy to speed up or slow down as needed to make the workout feel good to you. 

Equally, the resistance of the water and the challenge of keeping the kayak upright will work out key body muscles and strengthen your overall muscle mass.

Is kayaking good for weight loss?

Yes, kayaking is a great way to lose weight. There are a lot of calories burnt when you’re out on the water, so a person will burn calories and lose weight somewhat quickly if they kayak on a regular basis. 

The harder you paddle, the more calories you will burn, so you can go for a challenging weight loss workout or take it easier.

Do you burn more calories while kayaking than you do while canoeing?

Both water sports will burn lots of calories. However, kayaking will burn more, because it is such an intense upper body workout. 

Of course, either sport can be made to burn more or less by varying the intensity of the workout. Paddle boarding is also a fun sport that allows you to enjoy the great outdoors while helping you lose weight. 


Kayaking burns around 300 calories per hour for the average kayak enthusiast, assuming they are also of average weight. If you paddle harder or increase the difficulty of the conditions you are working in, you will find that you burn far more calories.

If you want a challenging workout, try paddling upstream, against a current, in windy conditions, or add weights to your boat to increase the difficulty of driving it through the water. This will give you an even more intense workout!