Get on the water: 5 health benefits of paddling

Paddlefest 2017, presented by St. Elizabeth Healthcare, returns to the water on August 5. Recognized by the American Canoe Association as the largest paddling event in the country, Paddlefest draws more than 2,000 people from more than 20 states. The event celebrates the paddling community, outdoor recreation and family fun with a nine-mile tour of the Ohio River. It also gives participants the opportunity to be exposed to one of the most health-friendly activities available on the water.

Canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding are low-impact activities that can improve cardio fitness, flexibility and strength. Whether you’re an amateur or avid paddler, the following health benefits are sure to come with a fun day on the water.

Enhanced aerobic/cardio fitness (heart health)

Whether you’re taking 30 minutes to leisurely paddle or go on an intense 20-mile touring trip, paddling can get your heart rate up and increase aerobic/cardio endurance. Like walking, jogging or running, paddlers can control their pace and mix in interval training.


Increased strength

Paddling allows for a more full-body workout than you might expect. Depending on the intensity of your paddling excursion, and where you decide to get on the water, paddling will work major muscle groups including your core (abs/torso), back, arms, shoulders, chest and legs.


Reduced risk of injury

Due to its low-impact and emphasis on resistance training (working against water and wind), paddling contributes little to no wear-and-tear on joints and surrounding tissues. It also increases strength and flexibility in joint areas, including wrists, elbows, shoulders and the trunk region.


Improved mental health

Getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life is one of the best ways to reduce stress and “get back to neutral.” Paddling gives you the opportunity to enjoy nature in a peaceful, sometimes meditative environment.


Increased Vitamin D intake

Vitamin D can sometimes be hard to come by through food intake alone. Time spent outdoors allows your body to absorb the “sunshine vitamin.” Be sure, however, to protect yourself from harmful UV rays if you decide to spend lengthy amounts of time on the water.

Heightened challenges for fitness buffs

Paddling can also be an exhilarating experience. A heightened activity level can increase brain functionality and challenge your body’s limits (think whitewater or sea kayaking). Consider yourself a weekend warrior that’s done it all? Try a whitewater paddling course or long-distance kayak tour if you haven’t yet.


Paddlefest 2017 benefits Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati, which coordinates with 20 inner city high schools in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to give teens the opportunity to experience nature through paddling, fishing, hiking, biking, climbing and camping activities year-round.