Calories Burned Kayaking vs Paddle Boarding vs Walking (1 Mile)

Calories Burned Kayaking vs Paddle Boarding vs Walking (1 Mile)

Are you interested in kayaking for weight loss? Kayaking is an intense cardio workout and a great exercise that will help you burn a lot of calories, get slimmer, get more toned, and increase your overall health.

However, how does it compare to similar activities, like paddle boarding, or everyday activities, like walking? Do you burn more or fewer calories while kayaking?

You can usually burn around 200 calories per mile of kayaking and paddle boarding, compared to around 100 calories per mile of walking. However, it depends on factors such as your weight, how calm the waters are, and how fast you are paddling.

In this article, I will investigate how many calories you burn while kayaking and how it compares to paddle boarding and walking. I will also give you some tips for maximizing the number of calories you burn, as well as some general tips that will help with endurance.

First, though, I want to clear up some confusion about calories, what burning calories actually means, and how it will help you lose weight.

Calories Burned Kayaking

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Burning Calories Explained

Burning Calories Explained

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What Is a Calorie?

A calorie, quite simply, is a unit of energy. Foods contain calories – some more than others.

When we eat food, our bodies can convert the energy we get from the food into everyday tasks.

Everything we do requires us to use energy – yes, you can burn calories from simply sitting and moving slightly, although you won’t be burning much.

Doing activities that require more energy, such as kayaking or cycling, requires you to use up more calories from your food intake.

However, when you don’t use all the calories you get from your food intake, the extra calories are converted to fat. That’s why eating a lot of high-calorie foods and not burning those calories through exercise leads to weight gain.

What Does That Mean for Weight Loss?

What Does That Mean for Weight Loss?

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When you burn fewer calories than you consume, the excess calories get converted to fat. The opposite is true as well.

When you are using up more energy than the calories you are consuming, your body is forced to look elsewhere for an energy source. For example, if you are doing high-intensity activities and burning 3,000 calories a day, but you are only consuming 2,500 calories a day, your body is in a caloric deficit – but that extra energy must come from somewhere!

Therefore, your body turns to your fat reserves and converts that fat to energy, so you can continue doing those activities.

There are two main ways to go into a caloric deficit. One way is to consume fewer calories – and the other way is to burn more calories by doing more daily exercise.

Either way, you want to be burning more calories than you are consuming consistently to lose weight. That’s the “calories in, calories out” rule – losing weight is as simple as ensuring the “calories out” (the calories you are burning) are more than the “calories in” (the calories you are consuming).

It’s okay if you have a day or two in which you mess up and consume more calories, as long as you are burning more than your consumption overall.

How Many Calories Are There in a Pound of Fat?

Research found that you can lose one pound of fat by burning approximately 3,500 calories. Therefore, by being at a caloric deficit of 500 calories a day, you can burn about one pound per week.

So, if you have a weight loss goal of 10 pounds, you would need to be at that caloric deficit for around 10 weeks to reach your goal.

It’s not as simple and straightforward as that, though. Your weight isn’t made up of fat alone – there’s water weight and muscle as well. Water weight, in particular, can vary based on your water retention.

Either way, if you plan to use kayaking to lose fat, it’s important to be aware of your calorie intake as well. It’s much easier to consume calories than burn them, so controlling your diet is perhaps a more significant part of weight loss than exercise.

How Many Calories Do You Burn? Kayaking vs Paddle Boarding vs Walking

How Many Calories Do You Burn? Kayaking vs Paddle Boarding vs Walking

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How Many Calories Does Kayaking Burn per Mile?

According to Harvard Health, a 125-pound person will burn 300 calories per hour, on average, by kayaking. A 155-pound person will burn 360 calories per hour, while a 185-pound person will burn 420 calories per hour.

As I will explain later, weight is one of the main factors that will determine how much you burn per hour.

According to the CDC, the average male over 20 years old weighs around 198 pounds, while the average female in the US over 20 years old weighs approximately 170 pounds.

That means that the average male can expect to burn well over 420 calories per hour, while the average female can expect to burn well over 360 calories per hour.

So, how many calories will you burn while kayaking, per mile?

It takes most people around half an hour to kayak a mile, so you can expect to burn around 180-210 calories per mile, depending on your gender, with variations depending on your weight and other factors I will discuss later.

How Many Calories Do You Burn per Mile When Paddle Boarding?

How Many Calories Do You Burn per Mile When Paddle Boarding?

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Standup paddle boarding is very similar to kayaking, but it’s actually a bit easier for several reasons. In similar, calm waters, it will be easier and less exhausting to paddle a SUP than a kayak.

According to one study, paddle boarding requires an expenditure of around 9-13.9 calories per minute. Since it usually takes around 30 minutes for most people to paddle board one mile, you can expect to burn at least 270 calories per mile, but it really does depend on a lot of factors.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking One Mile?

How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking One Mile?

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Walking is the preferred weight loss and exercise activity for many people. However, it doesn’t actually help you burn a lot of calories, especially if you are walking at a slow or moderate pace and not walking briskly.

Most people can expect to burn around 100 calories per mile when walking at a moderate pace of 2.5 miles per hour, with slight differences depending on your weight.

However, the number of calories you will burn will depend primarily on how fast you are walking and for how long. Here are some more detailed statistics from Harvard Health:

  • At 3.5 mph miles per hour:
    • A 125 pound person burns 214 calories per hour
    • A 155 pound person burns 266 calories per hour
    • A 185 pound person burns 318 calories per hour
  • At 4 miles per hour:
    • A 125 pound person burns over 270 calories per hour
    • A 155 pound person burns 350 calories per hour
    • A 185 pound person burns 378 calories per hour

As you can see, the faster you walk, the more energy you spend and the more calories you burn. Overall, though, walking is not a very intensive exercise, so you will have to walk at a brisk pace for at least 30-60 minutes a day to get any real benefit from using walking as a primary form of exercise.

In either case, it doesn’t compare to kayaking – you’ll burn a lot more calories while kayaking.

What Affects How Many Calories You Will Burn?

What Affects How Many Calories You Will Burn?

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While the above figures are averages, the exact amount you will burn will depend on several factors, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Here are some things that can affect how many calories you will burn while kayaking.

Your Weight

Your Weight

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The more you weigh, the more you will burn. That’s clearly obvious from the figures above – heavier people burn more calories per hour.

That’s because when you weigh more, it requires more energy to move your body. That applies to everything you do – even walking, but especially things like kayaking.

This applies even if you are heavier due to greater muscle mass. In fact, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you will burn per hour.

That is why males tend to burn more calories per hour than females, even in the same weight range – men tend to have more muscle mass than women.

The Intensity of Your Workout

In more challenging waters, you will burn more calories, as it will require more energy to paddle and move the kayak forward. On the other hand, in calm waters, you won’t have to tire yourself out as much, and you can even take breaks, so you won’t burn as many calories.

Similarly, the longer you spend kayaking and the further you go, the more calories you will burn.

The Weight of the Kayak

Finally, the weight of the kayak is another factor that will determine how many calories you burn. If it’s heavier, it will be harder to paddle.

That applies whether the kayak itself is heavier or you have more cargo on the kayak weighing it down.

Benefits of Kayaking for Weight Loss

Is kayaking an excellent weight-loss exercise? Absolutely – here are some of the main reasons to use kayaking as one of your primary methods of weight loss in addition to all of the other benefits of kayaking.

It’s Amazing Cardio

It’s Amazing Cardio

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There’s no doubt about it – kayaking is an intense cardio workout that is great for your health. The constant paddling and rowing take a lot of energy and strength, and it’s easy to get tired quickly if you are not used to it.

You will need cardio to lose weight. Weight lifting is fantastic, but it actually burns few calories – according to Harvard, a 125-pound person will only burn around 180 calories per hour with weight lifting.

While weight lifting is great for building muscle, you’ll need cardio to burn fat.

It’s Fun and Enjoyable

Running on a treadmill can sometimes be boring and monotonous, and you might find it difficult to motivate yourself to do it every day. Therefore, it’s a good idea to look for exercises and activities that are fun and enjoyable, and what’s better than kayaking?

Kayaking allows you to view beautiful scenery, enjoy precious time with family or friends, and bask in the sun on the calm and relaxing waters. It’s therapeutic and something you can look forward to, even if you can’t do it every day – and you’ll also get a chance to enjoy the weather, which you might miss out on if you stick to the treadmill in your basement.

It Increases Strength

It Increases Strength

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One thing that really makes kayaking unique is that it involves resistance a lot of the time, something that is lacking in a lot of cardio-based forms of exercise.

For example, running at high speeds burns more calories than kayaking, but it doesn’t really help you build muscle. That’s because to build muscle, you need to use strength against resistance, like in weight lifting.

When you lift weights, you are straining your muscles against resistance, leading to growth. As they grow bigger, you increase the weights to increase resistance and spur further growth.

That’s lacking in running, tennis, jogging, etc. It’s present in cycling, as when you go uphill or use a specific gear, you might have more resistance, but it’s mostly in your legs.

In kayaking, though, you often have resistance – you might have to paddle against the stream, for example; paddling in choppy waters may also involve resistance.

That means that kayaking can actually help you increase muscle mass in your arms as well. While it still doesn’t compare to weight lifting for building muscle mass, it does help.

You’ll Target Muscles You Might Not Target in the Gym

In fact, even if you do weight lifting, kayaking is a great supplemental exercise. That’s because you might target additional muscles you don’t target in the gym.

In the gym, most people stick to the same exercises every time, as that’s the easiest way to track your progress and ensure you are increasing the weight over time.

Even if you do a training split, you are likely doing the same 5-10 exercises each upper-body day, for example, with the same motions and path of movement.

That’s especially true if you are using machines, which have a very specific range of motion.

With kayaking, though, you are more fluid and flexible. You will be kayaking in different positions and engaging more muscles.

You Will Get More Toned

Therefore, kayaking is great if you want to get more toned. The more muscles you work out – even if they are not the main muscles you are targeting – the more toned you will look.

To get toned, you also need to reduce your body fat percentage, and kayaking is great for that, given how many calories you can burn per hour.

It can also help you get a six-pack, as you are often engaging your core muscles as well.

It Improves Endurance

Kayaking will help you increase your endurance. You’ll likely find your first few trips extremely difficult and tiring, but it will get easier over time.

Increasing your endurance will make you a better athlete in general. It will cross over into any other sports or activities you do, whether it’s cycling, running, wrestling, boxing, football, or rugby.

It’s Calming and Relaxing

Finally, kayaking is simply very calming and relaxing. Working out has a lot of mental health benefits in addition to physical health benefits, but you can maximize the mental health benefits by choosing the type of exercise you do wisely.

Nature has a lot of mental health benefits on its own. Have you ever felt relaxed and de-stressed after a short walk in the park?

Nature is calming and soothing, and it helps reduce stress and anxiety. We only started living in large cities recently – sometime after the industrial revolution – so our minds and bodies haven’t fully adapted, which is why “returning to the source” and connecting with nature is so beneficial for our well-being.

In either case, combining exercise and nature is often extremely beneficial. Cycling in the park is one way to do that, but kayaking is even better, as water is also extremely calming and relaxing.

How to Burn More Calories When Kayaking?

Do you want to maximize the number of calories you’re burning and get more out of your kayaking workouts? Here are some tips that will help you burn more calories while kayaking.

Challenge Yourself With Tougher Rapids

Challenge Yourself With Tougher Rapids

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On calm, gentle waters, you won’t experience a lot of resistance. Paddling will be easy, so you won’t get as much of a workout out of it.

By challenging yourself with rougher and choppier waters, you will force yourself to work harder. Not only will you be paddling against increased resistance, but you will also have to fight against waves and currents and use additional muscles you might not have been using otherwise.

However, make sure you have the skills and capability to enter those waters before attempting them. Otherwise, it could get dangerous rather quickly.

Kayak Upstream

Another way to challenge yourself is by kayaking upstream. Again, the point is to add resistance.

When you kayak upstream, you will have to use more energy to keep going forward. The more energy you use, the more calories you burn and the more fat you lose.

Add More Gear to Your Kayak

Finally, remember that if your kayak weighs more, it will take more strength and effort to propel it forward. There are a few ways to add weight to your kayak – you can simply add more gear, for example.

However, make sure not to exceed the weight limit specified in the user manual of your kayak or on the product page. The weight limits are there for a reason – if you exceed the weight limit, your kayak might start sinking.

I recommend going a bit below the weight limit at all times, just to be extra careful. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Wrapping It Up

You can expect to burn around 180-250 calories per mile when kayaking, depending on the intensity of your workout, how hard you are paddling, the weight of the kayak, and your own weight.

Paddle boarding will burn a similar amount of calories as kayaking, but walking for one mile at a moderate pace will only burn around 100 calories. That’s a lot less than kayaking!

By challenging yourself with tougher waters or by paddling upstream, you can burn even more calories, but make sure to pay attention to your diet as well.

If it’s your first time kayaking, check out these essential beginner kayaking tips before your first trip.

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Calories Burned Kayaking vs Paddle Boarding vs Walking (1 Mile)

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Peter Salisbury

Pete is the Owner of Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.

Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.