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What are the health benefits of Kayaking and Canoeing?


Both canoeing and kayaking involve paddling a small craft through water. They are low-impact activities that can improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility. Canoeing and kayaking can be done as a hobby, a competitive sport or as a fun activity on holidays. You can paddle on rivers, lakes and the sea.

What is the difference between a canoe and a kayak?

While ‘canoe’ and ‘kayak’ are often used interchangeably, a few basic differences include:

  • Canoe – this is an open vessel and the person either sits or kneels inside the canoe and uses a single-bladed paddle to push the craft through the water.
  • Kayak – this is an enclosed vessel and the person sits inside the kayak with legs extended and uses a double-bladed paddle.

There are exceptions – some canoes may be enclosed and some kayaks may be open depending on their intended use.

What are the health benefits of using a canoe or kayaking?

Few exercises provide the entertainment range of kayaking. One minute, you’re gliding through the water as you admire the tranquillity of your surroundings – the next minute, you’re zipping down a set of rapids. But this sport isn’t just a way to create variation in your workout. This water sport has a number of benefits that can greatly improve your overall health.

Strength – Inside and Out
You can elevate your cardiovascular health and strengthen a number of major muscle groups throughout your body. While this sport can provide a challenging upper-body workout, it’s also suitable for your lower body. It’s possible to navigate the boat through leg movements, which keeps your entire body active during the activity.

Overall Health Improvement
This activity will help provide you with an aerobic workout.  General benefits of all forms of aerobic exercise include increased endurance, improved heart health, better regulation of cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, lower blood pressure and better lung strength.

A Clear, Happy Mind
Exercises in any form plays a key part towards improving your mental health. Aerobic exercise triggers the release of brain chemicals that can quickly improve your mood. If you’re depressed, stressed or just need to clear your mind from the hectic nature of your day, paddling a kayak or canoe can provide a relaxing workout. The physical benefits you receive through this workout can also lead to higher self-esteem.

Where can I go to take part?

Aboyne Canoe Club
This Club welcomes new members and offers a year round programme with a mixture of pool sessions, polo, flatwater trips as well as river trips.

Click here to visit their website
T: 013398 853 342
Address:  5 Birsemohr Crescent, ABOYNE, Aberdeenshire, AB34 5EP

Stonehaven Canoeing Club

Club Activities
Members of Stonehaven Canoe Club are actively involved in river and sea kayaking and open canoeing. Pool sessions are held for members from the middle of January until the end of April.  From the end of April to mid-September training takes place from Stonehaven harbour.  The club meetings are held at Stonehaven Canoe Club boat shed, along Shorehead. Over the summer (From May to September) they run Monday night sea trips from Stonehaven.

Stonehaven Canoe Club annual membership fees can be located on their Membership Page.  This fees helps towards the cost of new equipment, repairs, the shed rental, and insurances etc. Along with an affiliation to the Scottish Canoe Association (SCA).  Members are encouraged to become an individual/family member with the SCA and benefit from all their perks.  Taster sessions for prospective new members may be offered periodically. For new members, training sessions are held in foundation paddling and rescue skills. These sessions normally run in a block possibly over a couple of evenings and a weekend.   Members are able to hire the clubs equipment (sea kayaks, river kayaks, surf kayaks and open canoes) for use on club trips.

Children are welcome to join.  However, they be accompanied by an adult to training sessions. The adult does not have to participate but must be in close proximity at all times. Children will only be allowed on trips where the conditions and coaching cover is deemed appropriate by the lead coach.

Click here to visit their website
T: 01569 763496
Address:  63 Forest Park, STONEHAVEN, Aberdeenshire, AB39 2GF

Cults Canoe Club

This is an active friendly club open that is open to everyone in the Aberdeenshire area who wish to take part in kayaking and canoeing.   With members all over the world, so geography is no barrier!  Pool sessions  are held at Cults Academy on a Friday evening through school term time and evening river sessions on Wednesday evenings through the summer as well as regular trips most weekends.  They are affiliated to the British Canoe Union (the sports governing body) through the Scottish Canoe Association (SCA).  The Club is an integral part of the Cults Community Education Centre. They recognise and use the guidelines for safety laid down by the BCU/SCA.  The Club has qualified coaches supervise both indoor and outdoor activities.

Click here to visit their website
Address:  Cults Community Education Centre, Hillview Crescent, Aberdeen, AB15 9SA

Aberdeen Kayak Club

Founded in 1976, the Aberdeen Kayak Club is one of the focal points for the development of Canoe-sport in the North East of Scotland. They are involved in recreational river paddling, on both quiet backwaters and the foaming rapids, and with the competitive discipline of Slalom.

Summer trips that include the opportunity to develop skills in the surf at local North East beaches as the rivers drop to low summer levels.  Summer also gives us an opportunity to explore the sea, coves and caves south of Stonehaven with a chance to see close up views of many varieties of birds and sometimes seals.

Winter trips target the more experienced paddler and include visits to the more technical sections of local waters. If you would like to try something different there is always the benefit of helpful advice and tips from the senior and experienced club paddlers.

They have a current club event calendar on their website which provides information on up coming trips and activities.

They are affiliated with the Scottish Canoe Association and British Canoeing and carries full third party and public liability insurance for organised activities. And they include qualified coaches and can provide coaching and grading to National standards.

Click here to visit their website
Address:  Aberdeen Kayak Club, Seaton Park, Aberdeen

Felicity Rogers

Felicity graduated from the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic in 2007 upon completion of a BSC degree in Chiropractic and has been working as a Chiropractor in the UK for over 7 years.

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