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How Many Calories Does Kayaking Burn?

Calories are the fuel that your body burns in order to perform any exercise. 

Sufficient calories are also required to build muscle and properly recover after your workout. 

If you want to know how many calories you are burning while kayaking, you need to take these factors into account:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Kayaking Duration
  • Kayaking Intensity

Let’s break it down!

How Many Calories Does The Average Person Burn While Kayaking?

excited woman kayaking

An average person, kayaking at a moderate pace, may burn just under 360 calories in an hour. 

However, depending on what we decide is moderate (or who is average), this number can swing up or down significantly. 

With that in mind, you need to consider what might influence your personal caloric intake and output. 

Factors That Affect How Many Calories You Can Burn While Kayaking

Let’s take a closer look at the individual factors affecting how many calories kayakers burn out on the water.


The primary sexual characteristic that determines athletic performance is “circulating testosterone”. 

If you have higher testosterone, you will likely perform better athletically.

The better you perform, the more calories you burn. 

Men, women, and non-binary people can all have varied testosterone levels depending on health, age, and medical history.

Fortunately, a simple blood test can tell you everything you need to know about your testosterone levels.


Age is not a significant barrier when it comes to caloric intake and output. 

According to a new study discussed in the New York Times, “you burn calories as efficiently at 55 as you do at 25”.

Most adults can expect to burn calories at a steady rate for most of their lives.  

Body Composition

Body composition is a huge factor when it comes to burning calories.

The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will need to consume. 

If your body is a machine, calories are its fuel.

A high-powered sports car uses more fuel than a moped.

Similarly, an Olympic athlete is going to need to consume more calories than a hobbyist.

If you feel like you are running low on fuel out on the water – you probably are. 

To support peak performance, it’s important to listen for these cues from your body and refuel appropriately.

Body Weight

Kayaking is a resistance exercise; the water resists your vessel and your paddle. 

The heavier your body, the lower your kayak will sit in the water – and the greater the resistance will be.

Greater resistance leads to a more intense workout, and more calories burnt.

Intensity can be mitigated by kayaking more slowly and making the issue of weight less significant. 

Kayaking is also a low-impact workout, making it an accessible calorie burner for a variety of body types.

Kayaking Duration

The longer the journey, the more calories you will need to complete it. 

If you are considering kayaking for lengths of time exceeding 90 minutes, you should consider carbo-loading

If gorging on carbohydrates is not your style, make sure to take breaks to refuel with energy-rich snacks.

Kayaking Intensity 

Modifying the pace and intensity at which you perform any exercise will have a sizeable effect on the calories burnt. 

Kayak faster, and you’ll burn significantly more calories!

On a multi-day kayaking trip, be sure to bring along sufficient supplies to replenish your lost calories.

Is Kayaking a Good Workout?

Yes, it is! Let’s take a closer look at what makes kayaking a good workout.

men kayaking on lake


Kayaking is a great cardio (aerobic) workout.

It is easily scalable to any level of experience or fitness. 

By virtue of being a low-impact workout, kayaking is safer for your body than traditional cardio exercises like running. 

This makes it an excellent cardio workout for you, regardless of where you are in your fitness journey.

Strength Training

Kayaking is a blended aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic (strength) exercise.

You might imagine that lots of kayaking would lead to a powerful upper body and underdeveloped legs. 

According to one experienced kayaker, that would be a mistake:

“Good paddling technique uses your core and legs as the prime engines. The arms are primarily to hold the paddle in the correct position. I do lots of paddling for fitness and if I come back with my core, glutes, and thighs sore, then I know I had a good workout. If it was arms and shoulders, I know my technique was lousy.”

That doesn’t mean that kayaking has no value to your upper body though! Reddit user Yodeling_Wang recalls their days as a kayak guide this way:

I weighed 127 lbs, most of it upper body from kayaking 70 miles a week and carrying the boats. I could drop down and bust out 100 push-ups in under two minutes at any time. I was in damn good shape.

Additional Health Benefits of Kayaking

But kayaking is more than just a great workout.

Here are some other benefits that may surprise you –

It Can Reduce Stress

Exercise and time spent in nature leads to boosted serotonin and lowered cortisol levels. 

To put it simply: getting out on the water in your kayak will make you happier and less stressed!

Exercising outside also helps you get your recommended daily dose of vitamin D in the form of sunlight.

Catching some rays can help you avoid a range of physical and mental illnesses.

Just be sure to apply sunscreen!

Can Kayaking Help You Lose Weight?

The key to weight loss is sustainability.

Any exercise that burns sufficient calories, paired with a balanced diet, will help you lose weight. 

However, if you don’t enjoy that exercise, you don’t stand any chance of maintaining that weight. 

If you enjoy kayaking, make it a part of your life!

Maintaining a healthy weight for your body depends on you developing a lifestyle that supports it.

This also means avoiding restrictive eating or over-exercising.

Healthy and sustainable weight loss is a gradual process.

If you want your weight loss to be sustainable, it should be a bonus effect — not the goal — of kayaking. 

How to Burn More Calories While Kayaking

Want to make kayaking your go-to exercise of choice for fat burning and calorie burning?

We’ve got some tips for you!

kayaking with pfds

Observe Proper Technique 

Good technique ensures you will be able to kayak for longer (burning more calories) and avoid injury! 

Boost Your Kayak Condition Difficulty 

Experienced kayakers can increase the intensity of their workout by tackling more challenging courses and waterways.

Be sure to match your skill level with the difficulty of the route.

Add More Weight 

The more weight you add to your kayak, the greater resistance you will face paddling it through the water. 

This is an excellent strategy for muscular gains.

Remember: greater muscle mass equals more calories burnt.

Kayak Upstream

Paddling against the current is a lot tougher than paddling with it!

This is a surefire way to burn calories.

Longer Paddling Time

The longer you paddle, the more calories you will burn.

Remember to replenish your caloric intake after 90 minutes, or consider carbo-loading the night before.

Key Takeaways

No matter how you do it, kayaking burns plenty of calories.

To perform well on the water, it is crucial that you support your performance with adequate caloric intake. 

If you want to maintain a healthy weight, you need to find a way to eat and exercise in a way that you love.

And if you love kayaking – you’re already halfway there!