Kayaking; For your Physical and Mental Health
I do articles and blogs on all kinds of things affecting your spine but have never addressed my favorite sport. Kayaking is my way to preserve neck and back health. Kayaking is low stress, low cost and an enjoyable way to spend time on any kind of water.
15 years ago, I was ready to leave Florida. It was too hot; the traffic was increasing, and my kids were grown and had no interest in going to the beach. After reading an article on kayaking, I decided to give it a try. I rented one and was sold immediately. I bought two, talked my neighbor into going with me and within two weeks, she bought two also. We invited two more neighborhood friends to go with us and we have been going approximately twice a week ever since.
When asked what we felt were the reasons to buy and use a kayak, this is what we came up with.
Cost: after initial outlay, kayaking costs nothing. You are the power that moves it, there are no fees to drop in most places. Kayaks last for years!
Comradery: though many people like to kayak alone, it is also its own community. It keeps friendships strong and opens the doors to individuals and groups with the same interest.
Exercise: kayaking works your core, your back, your neck and your legs. It burns between 350- 400 calories an hour.
Mental Health: the company, the surroundings, the feeling of being in complete control, all contribute to your mental health. Whether its riding a rapid or crossing a lake, there is a feeling of wellbeing that comes with paddling.
Outdoor time: Kayaking is great at increasing Vitamin D intake and no matter how many pills you take, actual sunshine is the best source.
Cardiovascular heath: like any other exercise, kayaking is good for your heart. Even if you are in poor cardio condition, it is an easy thing to start and gradually build up your stamina.
What to buy
There are hundreds of types of kayaks, so it is a very individual choice. The length should not be below 10 feet so it will track in the water properly. The lighter they are and the easier they are to transport, the more you will use them. Two seaters are called “divorce kayaks” for a reason. “Sit on tops” are a little heavier but are great for people with knee problems or who are carrying a little extra weight.
Don’t forget your life jacket, a whistle, water and sunscreen. A paddle is also very individual, and you should try several before buying one.
So try it! Rent or borrow a kayak with a friend for a morning (or an afternoon, or a sunset). It could change your life!
- Wójcik M, Siatkowski I, Rynkiewicz T, Rynkiewicz M, Zurek P. [Kayakers' length of training period lumbar segment mobility and weak links occurrence in biokinematics chain]. Chir Narzadow Ruchu Ortop Pol. 2011 Sep-Oct;76(5):256-61. PubMed PMID: 22420178