By Allison Mac
Outdoor recreation in general tends to be a great way to keep fit and stay healthy. I have always loved being outside and being in nature. I started kayaking roughly twenty years ago and quickly found it to be a sport that I loved. Not only does kayaking keep me fit and healthy but it also keeps my mind clear, focused and relaxed. In my opinion, kayaking is an excellent way to not only stay healthy but to stay happy as well.
There are many benefits to kayaking but the three that stand out the most for me are:
1. The core workout – increased strength and stability
2. The meditation – getting into the zone and chilling out
3. The elements – enjoying nature at its best
Keeping Core Workouts Fun
Many people mistakenly believe that kayaking and paddling in general mainly work out the arms and shoulders. However the truth is that paddling is first and foremost a core workout.
Your core, meaning the thirty different muscles located between your ribcage and your hips bridge the connection between your upper body and your lower body. They are some of the most important muscles of your body as they get used in every single move you make.
A strong core will support your entire body and allow for proper bodily functions. A strong core will also provide great balance and stability. Unfortunately the core muscles often get neglected. It can be a tedious task to do boring sit-ups each day and unless you find a way to make your core workouts fun, you likely will not keep doing them.
That is one of the reasons why kayaking is so great. It works out all thirty of your middle muscles while still being a fun outdoor activity that can be done by any person of any age.
Even after just a few short kayak outings you will notice your core feeling tighter and stronger – not to mention your arms, shoulders and back muscles as well. This increased strength will result in a healthier and more balanced body.
Kayaking as Meditation
I have tried many different types of meditation and have experienced first hand the benefits of clearing the mind, calming the body and being still. However even though I have found meditation to be a big help in my life I have always had difficulty putting the time aside to actually do the meditation. Eventually I found that for me kayaking was the perfect meditation practice. Paddling my inflatable kayak became instrumental in my ability to chill out and achieve peace of mind.
It does not matter what is going on in my life or how stressed out I am… When I get out on the water and start to paddle I quickly get into the zone and achieve my own type of kayaking meditation.
When I am done paddling I am normally tired from the workout but more than that I am calm, peaceful and my mind is clear and focused. I am convinced that my kayak outings offer a far more effective meditation practice for me than actually sitting down and spending twenty minutes trying to center my mind.
Becoming One with the Elements
Now that my body is being worked out and my mind has cleared the last major benefit for me is the happiness I feel being out in nature.
With a kayak you sit low in the water and consequently the kayak becomes an extension of your body. This allows for a unique experience of becoming one with the elements and fluidly moving through the water. The feeling is exhilarating and if you love the outdoors you will find yourself paddling with a grin on your face with each new waterway you explore.
Combine this feeling of natural abundance with the beauty of viewing wildlife and marine life along the way and you will likely experience a similar sense of complete happiness as I do.
Health, Happiness and Peace of Mind
Although there are many different sports and outdoor activities that may provide these same benefits, kayaking is unique in that it can be enjoyed by any person of any age as well as by many people with disabilities.
There are several different types of kayaks including regular sit inside hard shell kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks, inflatable kayaks or folding kayaks. There are also different styles depending on the type of water you choose to paddle in such as ocean kayaks, whitewater kayaks, or flat water recreational kayaks. Price can vary greatly and there are lots of options to accommodate all budgets. Which type or style you choose to paddle will be a personal choice.
All you need to get started is a nearby waterway, a kayak or a rental company. A few paddle strokes may be all it takes to be on your way to better health, more happiness and peace of mind.
Allison Mac is an avid health and fitness enthusiast with a special passion for keeping fit through kayaking. She reviews inflatable kayaks and blogs regularly about the advantages and benefits of kayaking at Inflatable Kayak World.