Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Paddling

2nd March 2023

Paddling on a regular basis can have great impacts for both your physical and mental wellbeing. It is a great form of exercise that has a huge range of benefits, from social to travel. But what are the main benefits in terms of your health? Check out below some of the top mental and physical health benefits of paddling.

Mental health

  • You can boost your mood just by being outside. Exercise in the “blue gym” more often and you’ll find an improvement in your physical and mental well-being.
  • Exercise on or near water and greenery has been shown to reduce depression and anger, as well as improve confidence.
  • You can improve your self esteem through setting goals to achieve. With so much variety within paddling, you’ll never run out of goals!
  • Paddling is a form of ‘moving meditation.’ That’s right, not all meditations include sitting on a mat chanting you know!
  • You’ll get more vitamin D. Vitamin D has been found to play a large role in mood disorders such as depression. You can boost your levels of vitamin D just by being outside and enjoying the space.
  • You can make new friends and form new social groups with people who have similar interests. Building new social groups is never a negative! More people to talk to, interact with and learn from… bonus!
  • It’s fun, and having fun makes us happy!
  • Doctors are now even prescribing activities out in nature, including kayaking and paddle boarding. Check out a recent interview with one of the pioneers of this method that British Canoeing did.

Physical Health

  • It’s a low impact activity. So even if your joints are weak, paddling will help you benefit from aerobic fitness, strength building, and greater flexibility.
  • Even during a relaxing paddle you can burn calories. You can burn hundreds of calories an hour paddling.
  • Paddling helps lower stress levels, which is closely linked to high blood pressure.
  • It helps improve core strength and stability. Some benefits of a stronger core are it helps prevent or reduce back pain, helps improve balance, and enhances mobility.
  • Even the most leisurely paddle will give you a good aerobic workout.
  • Paddling is inclusive. It offers opportunities for people with disabilities, their friends and their families.

Kent local, and GB freestyle team member, Sam Wilson loves his time on the water. Here is what he has to say about paddling and its impact on his physical and mental wellbeing.

“Kayaking in Kent is a great activity to partake in! There are many places to go and many people to go with. Paddling in my eyes is what I would call an ‘undercover work out’. For me paddling has been a great way to keep fit and healthy. You’re working a lot of your core muscles and also using areas you didn’t think you would be! Especially for sitting on your butt and moving a boat about. I’m not one for wanting to go to the gym, get sweaty lifting things up and putting them down again; plus I’ve never enjoyed the atmosphere of the gym environment. When you’re out on the river paddling there’s so much more enjoyment to have. There’s also the beautiful scenery that the Kentish rivers have to offer.

For me, paddling is a great escape. Anything that might be bothering me, worrying me or just playing on my mind just melts away. I often got on the water at Yalding, Kent. Within 3 – 4 paddle strokes it’s like you’ve let everything go and all the worries have gone. The local touring route from Tonbridge to Yalding is one of the prettiest stretches on the River Medway in my opinion. As soon as you’re past the lock at Tonbridge you’re out deep into nature. There is so much to see and enjoy along the way. Being out in all of this green space can really shift my mood in such a positive way. In Japan they have a national health program called ‘Tree Bathing’. This is basically where citizens would go and spend some time around trees. Whether it be in a forest or just out in a park. It has been proven to help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, reduce stress, boost your immune system as well as improve your wellbeing. I think for me, kayaking is my ‘tree bathing’.”

If you are interested in taking up paddling or any other blue water activities to boost your physical and mental wellbeing check out more information below.

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