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What burns more calories kayaking or paddle boarding?

Updated on: 02/09/23


Regarding healthy activities that can help you burn calories, kayaking and paddleboarding are two of the best. Both are low-impact exercises, and they’re great for people who have arthritis or other joint issues. They provide a full-body workout without impact in nature, on the water, and in the sun. If you are struggling to stand up on your paddleboard, it may affect how many calories you will burn. It would be best if you considered looking into how to balance on a stand up paddle board to ensure you are getting a good workout. 


That said, there is still a debate over which burns more calories. So which burns more calories? Kayaking or paddleboarding?

There is no hard and fast answer here because so many variables are involved. The type of vessel matters (sit-on-top vs. sit-in), how fast you’re going concerns, the amount of time, your heart rate, and whether it’s flatwater or choppy water matters, among many others. For example, if the wind is blowing against you on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP), it will take much more effort than paddling with the wind speed.


Overall, kayaking and SUPing will give you a good workout that will improve your fitness, strengthen your muscles and burn some calories!

Calories burned when kayaking

The number of calories you can burn while kayaking depends on your gender, weight, and speed. You’ll certainly burn more calories than sitting on a couch. Kayaking burns almost as many calories as running. Some studies show that it may be even better for building muscle strength.

Harvard Health Publications reports that a 150-pound person burns about 340 calories per hour in a kayak, and a 125-pound kayaker will burn 283 calories per hour. The research shows that kayaking is an excellent way to get fit and lose weight, especially if you don’t have much time to spare.

Suppose you’re serious about burning calories in your kayak. In that case, consider being more vigorous with your kayaking and traveling greater distances faster. The reason is that the researchers gathered their data by having people paddle continuously at a leisurely pace. If you paddle quicker and more vigorously for more extended periods, then you’ll burn more calories than what’s suggested in these studies.

Calories burned when paddle boarding

Paddleboarding is an excellent workout for your entire body. Still, it’s low-impact, which makes it perfect for people who are worried about their joints and looking into cross-training. You burn, on average, between 330 and 460 calories per hour when paddleboarding in calm water conditions with light winds. If you paddleboard and surf on the board, you can burn up to 600 calories an hour. The calories burned to depend on your weight and how vigorously you paddle. If you need an excellent paddleboard that can cover great distances and quickly combats the wind, check out our bluefin cruise paddleboard review to learn more.

If you’re paddling in rough waters or strong winds, you will burn more because of the intensity workout. If you are doing a lot of turning or fighting waves as they crash into you, you will burn more calories. You burn more calories if you paddle in the surf zone as well.

Paddling upwind burns the most calories because it requires much more effort than paddling downwind or across the wind at any angle. Because paddleboarding is so good for your core, it can help stave off back problems and injuries later in life. If you are new to paddleboard, you may need paddleboard lessons to take advantage of the workout fully. 

How to burn more calories

Summer is one of the best seasons to get out and burn calories! The great thing about kayaking and paddleboarding is that you can take them to the next level. If you thought these sports were just for lounging around and having fun, think again! Paddleboarding and kayaking are fantastic ways to burn calories and tone your body.

If you have a fitness tracker, attach it to your wrist or ankle while you’re out on the water to see your calorie burn and your heart rate.

Warm up in a way that sets you on fire! That way, it will be easier to keep your heart rate up during the whole workout and burn more calories. Minimizing rest periods in your training will keep your heart rate elevated for more extended periods. As a result, you will burn more calories.


The core balances and the arms are used to paddle. The legs, however, are also involved in the sport. Depending on the type of paddleboarding you plan to enjoy, whether flat water or surfing, you can lose more calories than kayaking.

Paddleboarding is a complete, total-body workout in which you use all muscle groups in your upper and lower body. A water sports SUP session will allow you to burn up to 400 calories an hour. Surfing requires more balance and agility, making it a slightly more challenging workout that can burn up to 600 calories per hour on average. If you still need to get a paddleboard, make sure you wait for the best time to buy a paddle board, typically in the winter. 

Kayaking is another excellent calorie-burning physical activity and is low impact, so it’s easier on the joints. The upper body muscles get a fantastic workout during a kayak session as you use your arms, shoulders, and back to propel yourself across the water. The average number of calories burned per hour depends on how fast you paddle and other factors. Still, on average, you can expect to burn around 250-300 calories per hour while kayaking.

I am a Paddle Board enthusiast that fell in love with paddleboards when I rented one in the Dominican Republic! Since then my biggest accomplishment was a 6 day through paddle of a 70 mile river!

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    Review Written By:

    I am a Paddle Board enthusiast that fell in love with paddleboards when I rented one in the Dominican Republic! Since then my biggest accomplishment was a 6 day through paddle of a 70 mile river!