If you live near the water, odds are you’ve thought at least once about trying out a canoe. The people who paddle regularly make the activity look so graceful and effortless. What you may not know is how good canoeing can be for your overall physical and mental health.
You can start this active hobby easily with a boat, paddles and a life vest — you can even rent the equipment at first to minimize your initial investment. Practice alone for a peaceful workout or join in with a friend or two and make it a social event. No matter how you get started, slow or fast, alone or with a friend, you stand to gain many health benefits from canoeing.
Canoeing is primarily an aerobic activity, meaning it works your lungs and heart with extended physical exertion. While working on this hobby, your cardiovascular system must work harder to pump blood and oxygen to keep up with the increased and prolonged demand on your body. With continued cardio exercise, your heart and lungs will naturally grow stronger and healthier.
Most of the power required to paddle your canoe comes from your arms, back and shoulders. Consistent use of these muscles will increase their strength over time. As you continue this hobby, you’ll find you can row for longer in harsher conditions without as much muscle fatigue.
Another essential muscular component for canoeing is a strong and stable core. The muscles all along your torso help you twist to paddle and help you keep the canoe from tipping as you navigate the water. Your core health will improve as you hold good posture and use your core to stabilize yourself.
Activities like weight lifting and jogging can be harsh on delicate joints. Canoeing is a low-impact exercise, so it doesn’t use jerky movements or repetitive impact with hard surfaces. If you already struggle with joint health, an activity like this can be a good entry back into an active lifestyle. And for anyone, it’s an easy way to work on your joints’ flexibility and strength.
Even though canoeing is easy on your joints, it’s tough on fat. This fairly simple and straightforward exercise can lead to a significant calorie burn. Since paddling combines the perks of cardio and strength workouts, you’ll benefit from two types of fat-burning potential.
As in a walk or jog, you’ll burn immediate calories by increasing your heart rate for prolonged periods. At the same time, the muscle-building portion allows you to continue burning calories long after as your muscles repair themselves.
Finally, simply spending time out in nature can be therapeutic. The sun on your skin, the cool water flowing by and the rhythm of your paddle going up and down can lull anyone into a calmer, brighter mood. It melts away your stresses and encourages mindfulness. You’ll leave the water feeling much better than when you entered — guaranteed.
While canoeing is a fantastic activity with a myriad of health benefits, you shouldn’t focus all your energy on it. The problem you’ll run into is a disproportionate focus on your core and upper body. You need your legs a bit for canoeing, but far less than every other part of your body.
Instead, make canoeing just one part of an overall active lifestyle. Add peaceful nature walks to spare your joints or strengthening exercises to boost muscle.