Calories Burned Canoeing

How Many Calories Can You Burn Canoeing?

A few hours spent canoeing on the river or lake can be transformative for your well-being. Not only does paddling get your heart rate pumping and your muscles engaged, but sunshine, fresh air, and natural surroundings boost morale and improve your mental and physical health. An added bonus? This sport can burn some serious calories and help you tone up and build muscle. If you want to know about the calories burned while canoeing, there’s a simple way to figure that out.

In this article, we’ll go over how many calories canoeing burns, as well as which muscles it tones and works. Best of all is the simple formula to calculate your caloric burn while canoeing, whatever your intensity and time duration.

Calories Burned While Canoeing

Let’s get right into it!

Calories Burned While Canoeing

You can calculate calories burned with the following formula:

Calories Burned Per Minute Canoeing = (MET x Bodyweight in KG x 3.5) ÷ 200

“MET” (Metabolic Equivalent) is an indicator of the energy used when performing a certain physical activity over a duration of time.

A MET of 1 refers to a very low level of activity, like sleeping, or watching TV. Walking with low exertion is roughly equivalent to a MET level of 3. Most conscious exercise will begin at a MET level of 4+.

Canoeing with moderate effort is usually considered to be MET level 5, while high-exertion and strenuous canoeing can reach MET 12.5.

So, let’s adapt the formula to canoeing:

Moderate Effort Paddling a CanoeHigh Effort Paddling a Canoe
(5 x 70 x 3.5) ÷ 200 = 6.13(12.5 x 70 x 3.5) ÷ 200 = 15.31
A 70kg or about 150lb person can expect to burn around 6 calories per minute while canoeing with moderate effort.

In an hour, they can expect to burn 368 calories (6.13×60).
That same 70kg (or 150lb) person can burn around 15 calories per minute while canoeing vigorously.

Over the period of an hour, they can burn an impressive 919 calories!

So that’s how the math works. But if you’d just like to quickly get a pretty accurate estimate for you based on your effort level and body weight, you can use this simple calculator:

Canoeing Calorie Calculator

The Life Jacket I Use and Recommend

In most states, wearing a life jacket or PFD is the law when you’re out on the water.

If you’re like me, you want a safe, effective PFD that doesn’t limit your range of movement when paddling. That’s why I highly recommend this one from Onyx. 

It offers great range of motion, can keep me afloat in the water (I’m 6’2″), and it is very comfortable. is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

It’s Just An Estimate

While formulas and guides are useful to determine figures for calories burned while canoeing, it’s not a precise science. Treat it as an estimate, albeit a useful one.

Canoeing is Good for Your Health

Bear in mind that your level of exertion isn’t constant throughout your time spent on the water. A normal canoe trip involves stopping for rest, speeding up, slowing down, and even intermittent periods of swimming.

Because of this activity level fluctuation, it’s difficult to calculate the exact number of calories burned. Factors like your fitness level, muscle mass, and gender also affect calorie burn.

Two people of the exact same weight won’t necessarily burn the same number of calories performing the same exercise. So, don’t make calorie burn your primary focus.

Why Canoeing is a Good Workout

As well as burning calories, canoeing builds significant muscle, increases cardiovascular fitness, and improves flexibility.

Canoeing is a Good Workout

Muscle Building

Repetitive motion exhausts muscles until they tear and rebuild bigger than before. That’s the basic notion behind “reps.”

Paddling follows the same principle of repetitive activity. You can expect to see some significant muscle gain from canoeing.

Muscle growth is expected in the following areas:

  • Back, arms, shoulders, chest – all from maneuvering the paddle
  • Abdominals, particularly obliques, as you rotate your body with the paddle and maintain core stability
  • Legs and thighs as you apply pressure to your legs with every motion

You’ll probably have sore arms and abs for a few days after a long day out on the water. Your arms bear the brunt of most of the paddling, while your abs keep you constantly stable.

Canoe Muscle Building

Over a few weeks or months, you will start to see a difference in these areas as the muscles grow and you become more toned. The more you go out on your canoe, the more accustomed your muscles get to the strain.

To keep building muscle, continue pushing yourself to go faster and further each time. Do this and you’ll still build muscle even years after starting out with your canoe.

The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism. That means you’ll burn more calories than before, even while resting.

Does Canoeing Count as Cardio?

Cardio is any exercise or activity that elevates your heart rate. Canoeing, even at a relatively leisurely pace, can get your heart pumping fast – so it definitely counts as cardio!

Does Canoeing Count as Cardio

It’s also compound cardio as it involves many different muscle groups. This makes it much more effective than jogging on a treadmill. Not only that but being out on the water is more fun than spending time in a stuffy gym.

Why is Cardio Important?

Cardio exercise benefits all the most fundamental aspects of health. For example, it will eventually reduce your resting heart rate and blood pressure. As the Cleveland Clinic explains, your cardiovascular system is better able to deal with the stresses and strains of life when this happens.

Canoe Cardio Exercises

This kind of exercise is also excellent for calorie burning, which is why canoeing is an effective calorie-burner.

Can You Lose Weight Canoeing?

Weight loss is determined by a calories-in, calories-out formula. If you burn more calories than you consume on any given day, you can expect to lose weight.

It follows then, that if you spend a day out on your canoe and burn more calories than you’ve taken in that day, you will lose weight. However, it’s a very bad idea to go canoeing without having eaten sufficiently.

Can You Lose Weight Canoeing

You need carbohydrates and energy to perform well with the paddle. Being malnourished on the water also makes for an incredibly miserable time.

Eat enough food beforehand and bring snacks with you so you get all the energy you need. Not getting adequate fuel and nutrition ultimately damages your workout.

If your goal is to lose weight, find the right balance between your calories-in and calories-out. Increasing your activity level and building muscle elevates your metabolic rate.

This helps you maintain a healthy weight in the long run. Always consult a medical practitioner before embarking on a weight loss regimen.

Other Benefits of Canoeing

  • Canoeing is a low-impact sport. It poses less risk of serious joint and tissue wear-and-tear compared to high-impact sports (like running).
  • According to Harvard Medical School, spending time in nature has a hugely positive effect on your mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, improving your mood and reducing stress
Benefits of Canoeing

Canoeing is not only desirable because it helps you burn calories and gain muscle. It’s also fantastic fun and improves your health and well-being in a variety of ways.

Being outdoors where you can observe nature, get fresh air, and explore new territories is stimulating and meditative. The exercise of canoeing is invigorating for your body and the smells, sounds, and views of your surroundings revitalize your mind.

Canoeing may well be the refreshing dose of outdoor activity you’ve been craving.

Final Thoughts: How Many Calories Can You Burn Canoeing?

Canoeing with friends or family is a great way to bond and spend time together. The team spirit will motivate you and probably enhance your performance.

Exercise is about improving your quality of life and wellbeing. Don’t think of it as merely a means to an end.  If you want to go canoeing, do it because it’s fun and invigorating. Any weight loss and improved muscle tone are just added benefits!

Ready to get started on the water? If you want to go solo, no problem. Learn about canoeing solo here.