As if you needed a reason to get on the water…here are five.
Absolutely nothing compares to being out on the water. It’s not just the workout. It’s not just the beautiful scenery or that moment you enter the flow state – that time that quiets your mind. It’s that magical combination of all of the above. That’s why we love it.
You probably don’t need motivation to get out on the water, but maybe you have a friend you’ve been after to grab a paddle. Here are our top five reasons you can share with the uninitiated about why paddling is the best.
Improve Your Cardio-Respiratory Fitness
“Rivers have what man most respects and longs for in his own life and thought — a capacity for renewal and replenishment, continual energy, creativity, cleansing.”
– John M. Kauffmann
Why paddling? It’s a prime activity to improve lifelong health. Even flatwater paddling maintains steady movement that gets your heart pumping, a form of exercise known as “steady-state cardio.” An increased heart rate elevates your lungs’ ability to oxygenate your body. Recommendations from the American Heart Association point to 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day, five days per week, to decrease risk of heart disease. As an ideal cardio-respiratory workout, paddling strengthens the heart muscle and helps your lungs function more efficiently. This makes paddling not only a great form of exercise by itself, but also a great way to cross-train for individuals who already have an existing fitness routine.
Get A Full-Body Strength Workout
“We play in a variety of places, wherever the water is good. If the creek is running and you want to run the creek, we’ll do that.”
– Eric Jackson
Paddling builds heart and lung health, but it also builds overall strength and flexibility. Over time, you can increase frequency and duration, growing stamina. Those who haven’t spent time on the water may think that paddling only works out your upper body. But while it is great exercise for your arms, chest, and back, don’t underestimate this workout’s comprehensive power. Rotational movement engages your core. Leg pressure engages lower-body muscles as you stabilize and balance your boat. Better yet, paddling is a low-impact workout, great for cross-training and preventing joint damage. It may even be a good, low-risk exercise while recovering from certain types of injuries (but make sure to clear it with your doctor first).
Escape Everyday Stress and Anxiety
“When I’m out on the boat on the water, no one can hand me my kids. I don’t have my phone, no one can get a hold of me, forget it, I’m gone.”
- Emily Jackson
Just 20 minutes in nature can reduce stress hormone levels, according to a 2019 study. In other words, paddling isn’t just great exercise for your body; it provides relief for your mind. Unplugging from screens and moving your body – even gently – improves focus and releases endorphins, allowing your brain to rest and rejuvenate. Over time, the repetitive motions become relaxing – almost meditative. Benefits of being on the water include decreased tension, elevated moods and even better sleep.
Connect with Nature
“What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal 500 on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.”
– Pierre Trudeau
One of the biggest benefits of kayaking includes a reconnection with nature and the mindfulness that comes with it. Our lives move so quickly these days that paying attention becomes a challenge. While paddling, the slow-paced, gradual movement from shoreline to shallow flats to narrow inlets to the open water allows you to focus on the shifting natural beauty around you without distraction. Bonus? You’ll absorb plenty of the “the sunshine vitamin,” (a.k.a. Vitamin D) to boost your immune response, bone health, and brain and muscle function – while also increasing levels of “the happy chemical” (serotonin).
“You can’t be unhappy in the middle of a big, beautiful river.”
– Jim Harrison
Boating improves your day, but it also improves your life. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, if you’re a paddler, you’re part of a community that extends beyond the water. Out solo? Chances are you’ll bump into a fellow boater and make a connection, even if it’s just a friendly wave. Paddling in a tandem boat or with a group? Exploring together, traveling to a common destination, problem solving and encountering challenges builds camaraderie. Paddling offers plenty of quality time and connection with others.
The benefits are big, so grab your paddle and your PFD and get ready for a day on the water. Just getting started? Come to our store or give us a call, and one of our experienced paddlers can recommend quality gear and give you a few boating tips. Old pro? Come see what’s in stock. At ARC we’re the go-to resource for your adventure needs in the water. After all, we’ve been in it for decades: For the love of paddling, since 1977.
Written by Jessica Broaddus