A good kayaking session can definitely feel challenging. However, does that also mean you are losing weight with this activity?
Losing weight and more specifically body fat is about using up more energy than is coming in from food.
Since kayaking is a relatively intense activity it will help you burn more calories than usual. There will also be some secondary weight loss benefits since you will likely sleep better.
If you keep all your other lifestyle habits the exact same, kayaking more than usual can help you lose weight. At least for a while until you reach a new energy balance.
Generally, the more intensely you kayak, the more weight loss results you will see.
At the same time, you want to keep in mind that there are also exercises that could offer more progress in less time spent exercising.
Additionally, don’t forget that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important no matter what exercise routine you follow. You can gain weight while kayaking if these other habits are suboptimal.
One big benefit of kayaking is that many people really enjoy doing it. Consistency is an important part of a good weight loss workout schedule. If you enjoy your workout it is easier to stick to.
Can kayaking help you lose weight?
To better understand why kayaking can help weight loss, to what extent, and whether it burns fat in areas like your belly a quick refresher on the fundamentals is helpful.
Your body needs energy to move around and function throughout the day. You mainly get this energy from the foods you eat.
When you absorb more energy (which can be measured in calories) from your food than you use, your body stores the excess as energy stores like body fat.
This is helpful in a prehistoric situation where you don’t know when the next meal will be. However, in the modern day, this mechanism often leads to excess body fat.
In turn, excess body fat can negatively impact your health. Besides health reasons, many people also prefer the look of a leaner body.
Luckily, it is also possible to get rid of excess body fat. When your body needs more energy than is coming in from food, it starts using up energy stores like body fat.
That means activities like kayaking where you move more intensely can help you lose weight if your other lifestyle habits are good enough too. What you eat still plays a big role in the energy balance.
To what extent does kayaking help weight loss
Whether or not kayaking helps you lose weight and burn belly fat is not the only question. You likely also want to know how effective it is compared to alternatives.
A rough estimation is that a 155-pound person will burn around 183 calories when kayaking for 30 minutes with a moderate effort.
The exact numbers will likely look different for you due to personal differences in intensity, duration, weight, body composition, hormone levels, etc.
One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000 calories).
Exactly how much weight kayaking helps you lose will also depend on other lifestyle habits like nutrition.
However, assuming you keep everything else the same, the person above would have to kayak for around 574 minutes or 9 hours and 34 minutes.
If you consider that a medium chocolate chip cookie contains around 78 calories, it becomes clear you also want to pay attention to what you eat (1).
Secondary weight loss benefits from kayaking
There are other things that make it harder to estimate precisely how much kayaking will help you in your weight loss journey.
First of all, moving at really high intensities also causes something called afterburn. In simpler words, if you kayak really intensely, you will still burn more calories than usual after you stop rowing.
Secondly, kayaking typically involves being outside in the sunlight. If you usually don’t get a lot of this, the sunlight could benefit sleep which in turn, can benefit weight loss.
These more unique advantages of kayaking will likely not be enough in themselves to get you to your goals. However, they are nice additions to an already good workout.
Lastly, another advantage of kayaking is that many people enjoy doing it. A different workout may be more effective in terms of calorie-burning but you could find it easier to stay consistent with a kayaking routine.
Calories burned kayaking vs other activities
Most people are also interested in how kayaking compares to other activities. The calorie-burning numbers below are estimations for a 155-pound person doing the exercises and activities for 30 minutes (2).
- Kayaking (Moderate Effort): 183 calories
- Kayaking (Competitive, Vigorous Effort): 458 calories
- Water Aerobics: 149 calories
- Stretching (Hatha Yoga): 186 calories
- Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
- Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
- Elliptical Trainer (general): 335 calories
- Running 5.2 mph: 335 calories
- Jumping rope: 372 calories
- Swimming (breaststroke): 372 calories
The first thing to note is that how intensely you kayak will play a big role in the number of calories you burn and in turn, weight loss progress.
Additionally, it is clear that there are exercises that could be more effective for your fitness goals. Especially if you consider that these other activities often require less time and effort to get ready.
Avoid weight loss plateaus
As briefly mentioned before, how much you weigh plays a big role in how many calories your body uses up.
Let’s say you implement more kayaking on top of your regular routine but keep everything else the exact same. In a situation like that, you will lose some weight for some amount of time.
However, sooner or later, as you weigh less and less, your regular routine and kayaking sessions will use up fewer calories. Up to a point where your new routine stops being enough to see more weight loss.
Knowing about this in advance will make the weight plateau a lot less confusing.
To start seeing progress again you do need to change up your habits and routines. For example, by kayaking more intensely.
Does kayaking burn belly fat?
Many people are also trying to lose weight to burn fat from specific areas like their bellies.
It can sometimes feel like you need a special heart rate intensity, eat certain foods, or do specific exercises but to burn belly fat you have to lose fat overall.
At some point, your body will decide the fat around your stomach is next. However, you generally don’t have that much of a say in where you burn fat from.
Unfortunately, the belly tends to be the last area where you lose significant amounts of fat.
So since kayaking has good calorie-burning potential it can also help you burn belly fat. Even so, it may take a while before this area is next.
Should you kayak for weight loss?
Kayaking can be a good workout choice to burn a lot of calories, especially if you do it at a high intensity. At the same time, there are also other workouts that can help you lose more weight in a shorter amount of time.
Two unique benefits of kayaking are that many people enjoy it and that it could help improve your sleep due to the extra sunlight exposure (to a certain extent of course).
Consistency is an important factor in a weight loss workout plan. The difference between two and three workouts every week makes a big difference in the long term.
One disadvantage of kayaking as a workout choice is that it may take some time and effort to get to a suited location, get the boat ready, etc. before you can start exercising.
Even if you decide to kayak as your main form of weight loss exercise, it is generally smart to implement muscle growth exercises too.
The extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories throughout the day. Including during your kayak sessions.
All in all, kayaking can certainly be part of a good weight loss workout routine, especially if you really enjoy doing it.
Make sure you keep an eye on the things you eat. No matter what exercise routine you’re following, it’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.