As outdoor activities go, kayaking is hard to beat.
From sea kayaking in tropical waters, to kayaking in a secluded lake in Europe, kayaking combines adventure, fitness and the great outdoors. What’s not to love?
For over 50s looking to stay fit and healthy, kayaking can be a great hobby to take up, offering a wide range of benefits. It provides a total body workout, building cardio-vascular health as well as strength and functional fitness. It also encourages you to get back to nature and enjoy stunning landscapes either by yourself or with friends/family.
Kayaking can be as intense or as relaxing as you like, making it a great option for all fitness abilities. Outdoor exercise and training is often associated with a plethora of mental health benefits too, making activities like kayaking, Nordic walking and other lifestyle activities a great thing to adopt for over 50s.
Kayaking does involve quite a bit of equipment and does require some know-how even before you enter a kayak. There are obvious risks associated with kayaking on water without a basic understanding of health and safety. This is why having lessons is often a great place to start if you’ve never kayaked before. Nevertheless, the video below offers basic tips for getting started with kayaking and illustrates why we think it’s one of the best activities to do for over 50s looking to stay active and fit.
FREE virtual fitness challenges
Kayaking for Beginners
Kayaking Tips for Beginners
If you’re just starting out on the water, here are some beginner tips for getting the most out of kayaking.
Type of Kayak
Kayaking is actually quite a broad term and kayaks come in many shapes and sizes. From inflatable kayaks, to sea kayaks, to racing kayaks, the vessel you choose needs to reflect what you want to get out of kayaking.
For beginners, sit-on-top kayaks are probably the best place to start. They are easy to paddle, easy to get in and out of and are pretty sturdy.
Test On Dry Land
Before going on the water, simply place the kayak on the ground and get in. Checking the backrest, equipment and your footing before entering the water avoids any issues once you get started. You can easily adjust anything as required so it feels as comfortable as possible and then set off on the water.
Although you may picture yourself kayaking on a warm summer’s day wearing shorts and t-shirt, it’s important to understand that regardless of the weather, the water may be much colder.
Falling into cold water wearing nothing but t-shirt and shorts is not ideal and could at the very least lead to an early shower and dry-off.
Kayaking wetsuits, gloves and other clothing can mean falling into the water is no major issue and you can continue to enjoy your paddling without feeling cold.
Having a dry bag on board is a convenient way to store belongings, food and water.
You can store your phone, wallet and other possessions here.
You may also want to bring spare clothing for the journey home.
Use Good Technique
Particularly for sit-on-top kayaks and inflatable kayaks, it’s relatively straight forward to start paddling and stay afloat. But this means it’s also easy to develop bad habits and improper technique.
Good technique is important for controlling the kayak in harsher conditions whereby you may need to stop the kayak in strong winds.
Correct technique will also avoid backpain or muscle injuries. Sitting upright will ensure you paddle in a way that works the major muscle groups and doesn’t cause strain injuries.
You Can’t Paddle without a Paddle
As well as the kayak itself, you won’t make it very far without a paddle.
Ensuring you are using correct grip (as shown in the video above) will help you get the most out of your paddling efforts.
When it comes to turning and controlling the kayak, subtle grip changes can make all the difference, so getting used to that is a real benefit.
Understand Your Skill Level
Once you’re on the water, kayaking can soon become an addictive hobby, but understanding your skill level is important to stay safe.
Don’t try advanced waterways or try and kayak in stormy conditions if you are just getting started.
Take lessons, practice and you’ll soon have the skills and expertise to take on more advanced kayaking adventures.
Don’t Kayak Alone
Particularly if you are a beginner, kayaking in groups or at the very least, with one other person, will ensure you don’t get yourself into trouble.
Having someone else there can help you feel more relaxed too.
redefine what your body is capable of.
Our weekly newsletter is full of inspiration and tips to help you feel functionally fitter. Join thousands who receive exclusive workouts and resources directly to their inbox.