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SFHF_Silvermagazine_April_2024_Allergy_LeaderboardThe Westin Nova Scotian Wellness

Getting Started With Kayaking Over 50

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The origins of the kayak go back over 4,000 years ago and were invented by the Inuit, Yup’ik and Aleut peoples in the arctic regions of what is today Canada. They were often constructed from stitched seal and other animal skins built on either wood or whalebone skeletons. And what an incredible invention they are!

Today kayaks are made from a wide range of materials and various designs for both flatwater and open water uses. Ideal for a quick paddle or multi-day trips. The longest recorded trip, according to Guinness world records for a solo journey was by Polish adventurer Marcin Gieniezcko at 3,462.9 miles. The unofficial record is by German Freya Hoffmesiter who circumnavigated Australia alone at a distance of 8,570 miles. Wow!

Kayaking at any age is fun and a great way to work out the upper body, build core strength for better balance and get closer to nature. If you’re not into the ocean, then there’s the option for flatwater, which is lakes and rivers. Flatwater can be a great way to try it out and learn your paddling skills and style and really, figure out if it’s for you.

While kayaks may look precarious, they’re quite stable once you get the hang of it. There are a range of kayak styles, including flat top kayaks where you don’t sit inside. These can be a great way to start because if you fall in, you don’t need to know any techniques to get out of the kayak.

A good idea is to find a kayak rental service near where you live or wherever you’re planning to travel. Many rental services offer some basic training as well to help you enjoy the experience. Most people find it very intuitive to paddle. A kayak is very maneuverable and can turn on a dime.

When you’re starting out, it’s best to do it in the summer when the waters are warmer and you’re not afraid to get a little wet. Be sure to bring along a change of clothes too! Always wear a life vest. If it’s a bright sunny day, wear sunglasses. Glare off the water when you’re so close can lead to retinal burn and difficulty navigating.

Once you’ve had a few initial paddle excursions and you think you want to get more into it, that’s a good time to take some courses. The most important being how to get out of a kayak that’s tipped over and you’re underwater. It’s not a hard skill to learn and there are lots of places across Canada to take these courses.

Ocean kayaking is a whole different thing from flatwater! If you’re going to try that first, be sure to stick close to shore for the first few adventures. Ocean swells, winds and currents can change quickly. Rescues can take longer and be more difficult.

A great way to build strength for kayaking is doing yoga. You’ll find it helps with balance and body movement. Lifting some light weights can help build muscle mass in your arms. A first paddle can leave you exhausted! A good stretch before a first paddle can help too.

So what are you waiting for? Go out and paddle!

Check out our list of the best places to canoe in Canada here.

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