Canoeing and Kayaking - Fitness on the Water Continues


So last week I took a time out from blogging on watersports to write about a dynamic warm up for those activities. If you missed it, find it here.

Summer continues here in Ontario, which I am very thankful for as we can continue to enjoy water sports on our lakes and rivers. This week let’s look at canoeing and kayaking, two more fun activities to do on the water.

Canoeing and kayaking involve paddling a small craft through water. They are low impact activities that can improve your cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and strength. Both can be done as a hobby, a competitive sport or just for fun.

Difference between Canoeing and kayaking

A canoe is an open vessel and the person can sit or kneel inside. A single-bladed paddle is used to push the craft through the water.

A kayak is an enclosed vessel and the person sits inside with their legs straight out in front of them. A double-bladed paddle is used to push the craft through the water

There are a few exceptions where a canoe may be enclosed and a kayak is open. It all depends on their intended use.

Most Common types of paddling activities

·         Flatwater recreation – this is what most people imagine when they think of canoeing or kayaking. Gentle paddling down a calm river or on a calm lake or sea.

·         Whitewater – paddling on varying grades of rapids. Much more adventurous and requires much more fitness and skill.

Health Benefits of Canoeing and Kayaking

·         Improved cardiovascular fitness

·         Increased strength, especially in the arms, shoulders, chest and back

·         Increased torso and leg strength

·         Reduced wear and tear on joints as they are low impact activities

·         Both can be peaceful and calming or exhilarating – depending on where and how you do it

·         All the benefits of being outside in nature

Preparing for Canoeing and Kayaking

If you are a beginner, it is best to join a club and to take lessons. Ideally you will be taught how to paddle properly and you will become more aware of safety issues on the water.

Be a competent swimmer – as you will most likely flip, you need to be comfortable in the water. Brush up on your swimming if you have to.

Health and safety suggestions for canoeing and kayaking

General suggestions include:

·         Learn how to paddle from experienced teachers. Contact your local club.

·         Make sure your preparation and skills are adequate for the planned paddling activity.

·         Be visible to other crafts. Put reflective tape or fluorescent paint on your helmet, life jacket and canoe or kayak.

·         Always wear your personal floatation device

·         Make sure you know about potential hazards in the proposed waterway. Seek local knowledge if paddling in a location for the first time, consider air and water temperature, currents, tides and wave action.

·         Check weather conditions before you paddle.

·         Don’t paddle alone. Always tell someone about your plans, including where you intend to paddle and when you expect to be back.

·         Dress for the conditions. Apply 30+ SPF sunscreen (or higher) to all exposed areas of skin.

·         Avoid dehydration. Take plenty of water to drink.

·         Keep your equipment in good repair.

Happy Paddling!

Andre Gordon