Most people think of taking up running or cycling when looking to get more physical exercise to improve their health. How would you like to try something different by getting out on the water in a canoe or kayak?
We are going to reveal the top mental and physical health benefits of canoeing or kayaking that should inspire you to get active in an exciting way.
What’s the difference in Canoes and Kayaks?
This is such a common question for anyone who is new to paddling and there are a few clear differences between the two sports.
A canoe is generally a much larger boat which you use a single-bladed paddle to move through the water. Canoes are open and you either kneel or sit inside them.
A kayak is an enclosed vessel which you sit inside with your legs stretched out in front and the paddle you use while kayaking is double-bladed.
Some canoes can be enclosed and kayaks, such as sit-on-tops, can be open vessels.
Health Benefits of Canoeing and Kayaking
- Improved Upper-Body Strength
Canoeing and kayaking are a fun way to help increase your upper body strength as you use the paddle to push the vessel through the water. If you get the chance to get out on the water for a paddle quite regularly, you should notice an increase in chest, arm, shoulder and back strength.
- Improved Core Strength
Your torso muscles are all called into action when you are paddling a canoe or kayak due to the rotation movements made while moving the paddle.
- Improved Leg Strength
You will find that, while in a canoe or kayak, you will be applying a lot of pressure through your legs which will increase your lower body strength over time.
- Improved Cardiovascular Fitness
One of the top health benefits of kayaking and canoeing is that it improves your cardiovascular fitness. Like many other exercises, paddling increases your heart rate which can help improve the strength of your heart.
This is very important at every age but especially later in life. Therefore canoeing and kayaking are great for older people looking to have a healthier heart by taking part in an activity that is not too stressful.
- Weight Loss
Both of these sports are excellent activities that help with weight loss. You will burn tonnes of calories paddling on the lough, in the sea or on a river, while also having a great time.
Most people can’t say the same about going for a tough run or cycle – that’s what makes paddling ideal for weight loss!
- Low-impact Activity (Reduced Injury)
Paddlesports are low-impact activities compared to running or contact sports where there is a lot of pounding feet off the ground and big hits.
The relatively low impact means there is less chance of picking up knee and back injuries which are particularly common in other exercises.
- Reduced Stress Levels
Exercise has been proven to reduce stress levels as it produces endorphins, which act as a natural pain killer. These endorphins help your ability to sleep which, in turn, reduces stress levels.
Other Benefits of Paddling
- Improved Social Skills
Getting out on the water in a kayak or canoe with a group of people is an amazing way to socialise. You can paddle to islands or different venues and stop off for a flask of tea and a picnic with your group – how idyllic does that sound?
Check out Trannish Island Bothy – a secluded island that Share Discovery Village owns, which is home to a cosy dwelling, camp site and BBQ area. This is a great destination to paddle to and relax with your group.
There a lot’s of paddling events and groups that you can attend to meet new people such as the Greenland Games, Share Slalom or Ulster Canoe Festival.
- Increase in fun and laughter!
One of the main things to take from any sport or exercise that you take part in is the fun and laughter that comes with it.
Paddling canoes and kayaks is really, really fun when you are with like-minded people who just want to have a nice, relaxing time.
While you meander through the calm waters of the lough on your canoe or kayak, you will notice the beauty of the Lakelands around you. This is great for the mind and body as it makes you relax and appreciate the wonder of nature around you.
- Capturing the Perfect Instagram!
Are you looking to update your Facebook or Instagram with amazing photos? Well, there are plenty of brilliant opportunities to get some stunning snaps while out on the lough or river in your vessel!
Top Tips for Canoeing and Kayaking
– If you have no experience paddling, it’s best to get lessons from qualified instructors before heading out on the water. The staff at Share Discovery Village are pro’s when it comes to paddlesports so feel free to contact them.
– Check the weather conditions before leaving. Be prepared for heavy rain or hot sun.
– Make sure you bring a mobile phone to be contacted on.
– Bring a spare paddle.
– Wear a buoyancy aid or life jacket.
– Don’t get dehydrated – bring lots of water.
– Make sure that you know the waterway you are paddling on.
Where can I rent a canoe or kayak?
Call into Share Discovery Village’s office or leisure suite any day you wish to rent a canoe or kayak to take out on Upper Lough Erne.
SHARE is a British Canoeing (BC) approved teaching school and we run a number of courses from beginner to instructor level every year.
You can learn more about how Share Discovery Village can help with your mental and physical health, here.