Kayaking may be great for those young at heart, but definitely not limited to just those physically young. kayaking for seniors is possible too, and can be easily adapted to suit those who want to kayak, but not be as agile as they once were. What makes kayaking great is the combination of exercise, getting outdoors in nature, and relaxation benefits. Here are 7 tips for seniors to enjoy kayaking while staying safe and injury-free.
Is Kayaking Good For Seniors?
Kayaking is actually an ideal recreational sport for seniors to participate in. It’s a low-impact way to get outdoors and get some exercise at the same time. There is more than the physical aspect too. A kayaker must stay alert and sharp in the water, to navigate safely and avoid obstacles.
There are some things those older kayakers must keep in mind though. Aspects like transporting a kayak and getting in and out of the kayak can be more of a challenge to a senior kayaker than a younger person, who might not think twice about this aspect.
How Do Seniors Get Out of a Kayak?
Getting into, and then out of a kayak can become increasingly difficult as we age. Because a kayak tends to sit low to the ground, getting down into and then back out of the kayak can be a roadblock for seniors, especially when enjoying kayaking. Knees, hips, and other joints can hinder our ability to enter and exit a kayak.
There is not a secret way to get into and out of a kayak, there really is only one way. However, different techniques can be used to safely and more easily accomplish this.
- Have a friend help: Having an extra set of hands available can help ease onto or into a kayak, as well as take pressure off of joints and muscles to get out of a kayak.
- Use a sit-on-top kayak: When it comes to getting into and out of a kayak, a sit-on-top is always easier than a sit-in.
- Enter from a dock with a kayak launch: Some docks are ADA accessable with lower docks and kayak launches that make it easy to get into a kayak from a dock and launch. Look for these when available.
- Enter and exit from shallow water: Get into a kayak from knee deep water to use the kayaks buoyancy to your advantage. This way the kayak is not as far down.
Kayaking For Seniors | 7 Tips for Kayaking Over 50s
Kayaking into your twilight years is still possible, but there are some extra accommodations and planning that should take place before hitting the road with your kayak. Below are the top 7 tips when kayaking over 50.
1. Use a Kayak Cart For Easy Transportation
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There may have been a time when picking up a kayak and hoisting it onto your shoulders from the vehicle to the water was simply an afterthought. Now though, things might be different. There is definitely an easier and more efficient way of transporting the kayak without picking it up.
Using a kayak cart is a convenient way to quickly load the kayak from the vehicle and unload it again at the water. It’s also a good idea to use a kayak cart that can break down and fold up for storage in the kayak. This is in case you have to portage during a river kayak.
2. Learn the Easiest Ways to Get In and Out of a Kayak
The biggest challenge for some will be just getting into and out of a kayak. As outlined in an earlier section of this post, there are certain techniques and tips for getting in and out of a kayak more easily. Depending on your situation, and where you’re kayaking, you might find that you use several of these tips. Here is a quick reminder:
- Have A Friend Help You Get In and Out
- Opt For the Sit-On-Top Kayak Instead of Sit-In
- Choose an ADA Compliant Dock or Use a Kayak Launch
- Get In and Out From Knee Deep Water
To help keep your body limber and ready for the physical demands of kayak, which includes getting in and out of a kayak, it’s a good idea to stay active always and even take on a daily stretching routine. This will ensure that limbs and joints can stay loose.
3. Consider an Inflatable Kayak
A comfortable and lightweight kayak will rank higher on the list of must-haves for a senior kayaker. Especially if carrying the kayak is unavoidable.
This makes an inflatable kayak perfect for an older paddler who wants a convenient option for transporting a kayak. Fortunately, newer inflatable kayaks today are not only lightweight but very sturdy and stable in the water.
The typical inflatable kayak will weigh around 30 pounds and can be transported in the backseat or trunk of a car. The only extra step will be to make sure it’s cleaned and dried properly after each use.
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Inflatable kayaks are safe too. A new inflatable kayak will offer durability and reliability on the water. Most newer inflatable kayaks will have multiple air chambers in case of punctures, so no need to worry about sinking. In fact, an inflatable can be less likely to tip than a normal hard-shell kayak.
4. Invest in a Kayak Loader
Except for using an inflatable kayak, to transport a kayak on your vehicle you’ll need a kayak rack either for a car, SUV or truck. But, the next problem is getting the kayak loaded. Even with a partner, loading a heavy kayak can be strenuous. This is true when loading or unloading the kayak.
Using an automatic kayak loader, such as this one that Thule makes, called the Hullavator, will lift the kayak up and onto the roof of your vehicle using gas struts in the extension arms. All that’s needed is a little guidance to hoist the kayak on top of the vehicle.
5. Learn to Paddle Properly
Learning a proper paddling technique can lessen the strain on the shoulders and arms. Using what is called “the paddler’s box” will create an efficient paddle stroke that reduces the likelihood of an injury. In short, the paddler’s box is an imaginary rectangle that runs from the hands at the paddle shaft, to the arms, across the shoulders and chest.
Knowing the correct way to hold that paddle can also help to ease the strain and make paddling more efficient. Hold the paddle in both hands directly overhead while bending the elbows at a 90-degree angle. When the elbows are at the 90-degree angle, this will perfectly position the hands on the paddle shaft.
For a more in-depth look at paddling techniques and information, follow this link for the ultimate kayak paddling guide.
6. Use a Comfortable Seat with Back Support
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Stock kayak seats, whether used in a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak, don’t always offer the best back support. Luckily, there are plenty of aftermarket options that will save the wear and tear on the back when sitting in a kayak for many hours.
A quality kayak seat will offer better comfort and quality than most stock kayak seats. Those seniors who struggle with back soreness and tightness might opt for the higher back seats for better stability and rigidity. As a bonus, most quality kayak seats have additional storage built-in too.
7. Choose Stability Over Speed
No one wants to end up with an overturned kayak and in the water. That can be especially true for an older person who might have difficulty getting back into a kayak from the water.
Make sure to choose a kayak that has more stability in the water. If the kayak has a “tippy” feeling, it might be very maneuverable and fast, but the primary stability of the kayak will be compromised.
Using a kayak with a flat or pontoon hull design will give more primary stability, but sacrifice some speed and maneuverability in the water. Each person should consider this trade-off between stability and speed, based on their own ability and skill level in the kayak.
Summary | Kayaking For Seniors
Kayaking is a great activity for seniors. Kayaking can improve strength in the arms, shoulders, and core muscles, and be relaxing all at the same time. But, as with most things when we get older, being a little more deliberate and some planning can go a long way in making a trip run smoothly.
On-land transportation, and getting in and out of a kayak are big issues when kayaking, especially alone. But, implementing all 7 of these suggestions can keep a person kayaking for years to come.