Thursday, February 13, 2014

Paddling As A Workout

The following is a guest post from Joseph at  Austin Canoe & Kayak. By the way, Austin is having their own taste of winter right now. 

It is common knowledge that getting a good workout is important for a healthy lifestyle and well-being. As most of you know, paddling can be quite the workout depending on your activity and water conditions. However, these different types of conditions can give you different types of workouts. Let’s dig deeper into what they can be…

Paddling for Exercise
Though we are currently in the depth of winter, spring will soon be upon us and fitness enthusiasts have more of an opportunity to emerge from the gyms and return to the outdoors (though many of us have been out all winter). This could mean getting off the treadmill and hitting a real running trail or hopping off the stationary bike and getting on a real one. However, for those of you who just can’t stay off the water consider integrating paddling into your daily workout regime.

Many people think paddling is a great way to connect with nature and water, and it is! But what many people tend to forget is that paddling can actually provide quite the unique workout, especially for your upper body. Paddling can also offer great aerobic and cardio benefits, depending on how intense you get. Paddling can help round out your workout regimen by pairing it with something like running or cycling, which focuses on lower body strength.

Some of the Many Benefits
One of the best benefits of paddling as a workout is that it provides an incredible core workout. The core of your body is made up of upper and lower ab muscles and is strengthened through the turning and shifting of the kayak and paddles. Each turn of the kayak results in the use of these ab muscles, which over time builds them into a strong core. A strong core is important for everyone. It gives you better stability, balance, and support for your back, hips, and joints.

But of course, the paddling motion does more than strengthen your core. Each stroke of the paddle uses the shoulder and arm muscles, which over time increases your muscle mass and muscle tone. The repetitive stroke motion also can turn paddling into an aerobic workout, depending on how much you are exerting yourself. Calorie burn, of course, varies by paddler and is dependent on how hard and long you paddle, and what types of water and wind conditions you are paddling in. Continuous paddling can be compared to swimming at a moderate pace or a slow jog. Lastly, this continuous movement of the paddle raises heart rate and helps better your cardiovascular health. There aren’t many sports out there that offer such a great combination of strength training, cardio, and aerobics all while enjoying the great outdoors!

For those looking to build your anaerobic capacity, interval training can be a great way to achieve this. This entails paddling hard for one minute, relaxing for two or three and then going hard again. Interval training is very commonly done by kayak specific athletes but can be useful for anyone looking for additional anaerobic workouts.

Balancing Your Workout

Paddling offers a great alternative to more conventional workout routines. It can help break up just about any exercise program, which is great for strength, endurance, and overall fitness. Conventional workouts tend to focus mainly on the lower body, so paddling supplements these activities very well. Paddling is easy to jump right into, but over time skill and technique will improve to make for more effective workouts. We encourage you to investigate further into all of the things that will increase the benefits of paddling workout. Learning proper stroke technique and posture are both key to ensuring a good workout.

About the Author:
Joseph is an avid kayaker based out of the central Texas area. He has paddled many of central Texas’ waterways and has attended and/or participated in many kayak fishing tournaments, races and paddling festivals. He’s currently employed at Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK) and loves that he gets to spend time working with his favorite toys.