Benefits of kayaking – stay fit and zen

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I discovered kayaking far too late. Don’t make the same mistake because kayaking is one of the best ways to stay fit and zen at the same time as well as explore secluded parts of this world. I fell in love with it and kayaking became one of the main activities of our adventure tours in Croatia. Kayaking can make your life better and there are numerous other benefits of kayaking.

Kayaks were created by Inuit tribes thousands of years ago and the name kayak translates to “hunter’s boat”. It was mainly used for fishing and even nowadays many fishermen favor kayak more than other means of moving through water. Few kayak designs were developed during the time and different versions were used according to various needs.

benefits of kayaking
Benefits of kayaking affect a lot in your life

kayak types

In modern times kayaking was recognized as a sport and other various activities were made possible by redesigning kayak, for example, white water kayaking in which smaller and wider kayak is used as opposed to sea kayaking where the long and narrow kayak is a much better fit. According to a cockpit-style, there are sit-in kayaks in which a person sits and with the usage of the spray deck makes kayak completely closed system and sit on top kayaks in which person is not closed and can jump out of the kayak at any given moment. The benefits of kayaking encompass all of these kayaking styles.

benefits of kayaking
Morning kayaking in Croatia

actual benefits of kayaking

So what’s so good about kayaking? A lot of things, after all this time and all the activities I have tried in my life, I still find kayaking as the best one. Maybe it’s because it’s versatile, you can go kayaking alone and have a great time. Or you can go with your friends and have an even better time. There’s something for everyone.

Here are some benefits of kayaking and why it is great for both your body and mind.

you are in the nature, far away from stress and problems

It’s 21 century and we all have some kind of troubles. Whether it’s our job, family relations, or maybe news, it’s out there and we feel the pressure of all of it. It’s important more than ever to have some hobby that will act as a valve to release all this stress out of you.

Kayaking in a lush nature of Bacina lakes

When you are in the kayak, you don’t have time to look at the bad news in the media. You don’t think much about your problems. At the same time, you’re doing an exercise so your happiness hormones are pumped in your bloodstream and you feel good.

it’s exercise and meditation at the same time

Yes, you have read it well. When you are paddling in a kayak you enter a deeper state of mind. If you let yourself go. You are making a repetitive movement with your body and the sound your paddles make when they hit the water is mesmerizing.

Sunset kayaking in Croatia

You’re exercising both your mind and body. This is much more expressed when the sea (or any other body of water) is totally calm and reflective. It almost seems that you are paddling in the sky because of the reflection. You can even close your eyes and just follow the rhythm. But make sure you open your eyes occasionally.

But benefits of kayaking reach even further.

strengtening your core and upper body muscles

Moving into the realm of visible body changes. Kayaking is one of the best exercises for the upper body and core strengthening. If done correctly, you can see the changes very soon. Correct paddling movement is done through the rotation of your upper body rather than just using your biceps as many beginners do.

Kayaking is perfect activity for couples

It might be a bit problematic if you are using wider sit on top kayaks, but it’s achievable and you should always strive toward good paddling technique. But even if you are not paddling correctly at the start of your kayaking journey, you’ll still see some benefits of kayaking in a form of stronger arms and upper body.

burning calories

Everybody loves this. If you have problems with obesity or you would like to lose a few kilos, kayaking is the perfect activity for you. When it comes to calories burned, you can go as high as 500 calories burned per hour.

Reaching the distant shores is easy in a kayak

A lot of it depends on weather conditions, you’ll burn more if you are paddling against the current or in big waves. A good thing is that once you go for a kayaking session, you often kayak for few hours and with that, you burn even more calories.

your heart will love it

And it’s not just because you’ll fall in love with kayaking. The benefits of kayaking include improved heart health because it’s an aerobic exercise. Your heart will go all crazy and pump blood with happiness hormones even to the furthest cell in your body.

strengthening your legs

Yes, it might seem strange, but legs also work when kayaking. Just watch a few videos of professional kayakers and you’ll see the rhythmic work of their legs. Your legs on a sit on top kayak might not have the same movement, but you still use them to balance your body and push into the kayak. So your legs still work and you’re developing their muscles.

Sunset from a kayak

hormones, good hormones

As you are doing any exercise, your happiness hormones are released in your bloodstream and your overall mood is getting better and better. It’s much more expressed when kayaking because you’re spending your time in nature rather than in the gym. So our best advice for your next blue day would be to jump in your kayak and start paddling. You’ll start feeling better in no time.

no media, no stress

You can’t kayak and scroll on your mobile phone at the same time. When you are kayaking, nature is your screen, nothing else. In the modern world, the media wants to show everything in a bad light. You can easily see that bad news is prevailing and you might easily think that this world is becoming worse with each passing day.

Sometimes it’s best to turn the sounds off

It’s how media works and it doesn’t mean that it’s the truth. Still, we often get in a bad mood because of the media and the news they present us. Next time this happens to you, the kayak is your answer. Among the numerous benefits of kayaking, no media exposure is one of our favorite.

exploring the secluded parts of the coastline

It’s funny how just the exploration of hidden parts of the world can make you feel good. So start exploring. Kayaking is perfect for that. You can reach many hidden places just using your strength. You might find yourself a new favorite spot, maybe a secluded beach you didn’t know even exist. This kind of exploration is good both for your body and mind.

Finding the secluded beaches

sun and fresh air

Combination of rejuvenation. Your body needs both and kayaking provides both. You get your daily dose of vitamin D through being in the sun while kayaking. On the other hand, fresh and salty sea air will make your nose and lungs clear of any bacteria.

social distancing

One of the more actual benefits of kayaking. Social distancing is a new norm because of the coronavirus and guess what, kayaking might just be the best activity for practicing it. Whether you are paddling alone or in a group, it’s always easy to be distanced from other persons but still, kayak together with them. It’s easy to keep your distance from other members of the group and yet feel like you are part of the same group. Because let’s be honest, kayaking in a small group can be as liberating as kayaking alone.

Kayaking is perfect for keeping a social distance

time just for you

We are ending our benefits of kayaking list with this entry. Sometimes you just need some time for yourself, far from the others. Maybe you need to think about something and you need a clear mind. When you go kayaking, you might think of a solution to a problem that’s been bothering you for some time. We mentioned earlier how kayaking clears your mind and puts you in a meditative state which is good for reflection and problem-solving.

It’s always good to have some time for yourself

my kayaking beginnings

The first time I got a chance to try this awesome activity was back in 2006. I was a member of a local adventure club called “Osmica” (figure 8 knot in rock climbing). I and my best friend (the same one as in Biokovski vuk story) decided to participate in the hardest adventure race in Croatia of that time – the Cetina adventure race. I knew nothing about kayaking and the benefits of kayaking back then.

Part of the challenge was kayaking on a Peruča lake in a total distance of 22 kilometers. We never tried kayaking so we took one from a club, DAG Tribal it was, went to nearby Baćina lakes and…paddled in circles for about one hour. That was my first ever touch with kayaking. “Sh*%&” – we thought, we will never prepare for the race in time, we can surely paddle for 22 kilometers but we’ll reach nowhere.

But that was not the case. In about an hour or so we managed to control the boat and from that time onward kayaking was fun. We went to the race, did a kayaking part with no problems as well as other parts of the race which covered more than 100 kilometers in total.

Two of us with our first kayaks

I saw what’s to become my first kayak on the very first day I came to Zrmanja river. It was a DAG sea kayak Miwok and it was the only DAG kayak among the Prijon flotilla. Prijons were newer and Miwok was last in line, abandoned. I asked the boss if I can buy it at the end of the summer and he agreed.

There is something meditative in repeated paddle strokes that propel you through the water. I was training kayaking for about a year and then I had to stop because of other obligations I had at that time.

My first sea kayak

Later that year, just a few months before the summer I saw an ad in which the largest Croatian adventure travel agency was looking for adventure guides with kayaking being one of the activities. I applied, got in, ended 2 months of education, and spent the whole summer kayaking on Zrmanja river as well as some other places too. Awesome summer, kayaking down the rapids every day with nothing but nature around you. “I could do this forever” – I thought.

And that’s how Life and Ventures adventure tours started. Kayaking is part of some of our most popular adventure tours in Croatia such as Baćina lakes kayaking and Makarska Riviera sunset sea kayaking. One of the main goals of Life and Ventures is promoting the benefits of kayaking.

Kayaking and rock climbing in Croatia

And that’s how I got my first kayak ever which I still use today and wouldn’t exchange for anything. Later that summer I bought 2 more DAG kayaks – Biwoks which are 2 seated versions of Miwok. Spent almost everything I earned that summer on kayaks. But it felt nice, it was part of a larger scheme, part of a dream.

Later on, I went to university in Zagreb. It was far from the sea so I didn’t even think about kayaking for a while. Until the last years of my university education when I decided to join the kayaking club in Zagreb. And so I was paddling every second day on a Jarun lake. Not even the winter could stop me, nothing, I would grab a kayak from a warehouse, sit in it and just enter the zen paddling state. If you tried kayaking you’ll probably know what I’m talking about, if you haven’t you might not believe me until you try. And that’s when I started to feel the benefits of kayaking.

Exploring the Croatian coastline

As time went by I got into kayaking more and more. I love the sole feeling of paddling, I like how fast you can go, how you can struggle with high waves and other bad weather conditions. Every type of kayaking has its beauties. Calm water will make you enjoy the reflections around you while sea waves will make you go up and down like in roller coaster (sometimes you’ll just run through the waves with water splashing all around you). And the benefits of kayaking I was feeling were overwhelming.

Being in a sit-in kayak makes you almost invincible, you are like a submarine and you cut through the waves easily. This, of course, does not mean that you should get out in the sea in really bad weather. Know your limits.

There are many kinds of kayaks as well. If you seek fast kayak for longer tours you’ll probably choose composite ones. If ease of transportation is your main goal then you’ll go for inflatable kayaks. There is also kayak surfing as an activity in which you must use special narrow kayaks. Never tried it but from the videos I’ve watched, it seems like great fun. I found that sea kayaking and plastic touring kayaks are the best fit for me. Sometimes I like to paddle for hours and just get lost in the process.

You can go kayaking in pretty much any weather conditions (with proper equipment) and that’s nice too. There is nothing better than kayaking in summer rain or fight with the southern wind waves. Of course, severe weather is better for a cup of coffee near the window. Be smart. Don’t underestimate the power of nature and overestimate yours.

As we are born and living in Croatia which is a country with a beautiful coastline and many islands we have a chance for a lifetime of kayaking exploration. Croatia is simply perfect for sea kayaking. As well as Greenland with all those iceberg kayaking routes. But we are nowhere near Greenland so we spend most of our kayaking time finding secluded beaches and swimming far from everyone.

So to conclude, if you ever find yourself on a vacation and you get a chance to try kayaking, try it. You’ll have a great time possibly fall in love with this activity. On the other hand, if you live near the sea (or river and lakes) and you want some hobby or activity to keep you active, consider buying yourself a kayak.

Enjoy your adventures!

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