Kayaking and Retirement - What is the best kayak for seniors

Kayaking is fantastic for building lean muscle, keeping fit, and staying healthy. It's definitely an excellent way to stay in shape and it's great for both your physical and mental wellbeing. However, is it a good hobby for elderly people?

During retirement it can sometimes seem like a struggle to find new and exciting ways to enjoy life. This factor with attempting to stay healthy and in shape, can seem impossible at times. Could kayaking be the answer? 

This hobby is definitely fun and enjoyable. It gets you out of the house exploring in nature and it doesn't cost anything once you're set up with the right kit. Let's take a look at whether kayaking is a good choice for those of you that are looking for a new way to spend your time during those golden years…

In this article we'll be looking at how kayaking can benefit you during retirement and how you can start kayaking today. We'll be going into the safety aspects surrounding the hobby and ways to make getting out on the water easier and more achievable for you.

What Kayak is Best For Seniors?

There are several different types of kayaks available. Some are designed for whitewater, some for long distance touring, some for racing, some for saltwater, and some for casual paddling.

There are two main types of kayak design you'll find. These are the open-top and sit-in kayaks. 

Open top kayaks don't have a traditional covered cockpit. Instead, you sit on top of them in an elevated position. This means your legs are exposed to the elements but it's far easier to get on and off of the vessel.

Sit-in kayaks are the more traditional style. These have a covered hull and a cockpit. You sit in the cockpit closer to the water and your legs are extended inside the shell. These kayaks are much more versatile in terms of the environments you can use them in but they are harder to mount and dismount. 

The best type of kayak for the elderly is the sit-on (open top) kayak. This is because they are far easier to get on and off of and they allow you to move around and adjust your seating position far easier. However, if you've kayaker before and have the experience, you may be better off with a sit-in.

How To Make Getting Out on the Water Easier 

As we get older, It can be difficult to know how much we can and can't do. It's easy to work just as hard and do just as much as we did in our younger days but sometimes we need to slow down and take it easy. Things we did when we were younger aren't as easy now and it's important to realise that to ensure we stay safe and healthy while still enjoying ourselves. 

Kayaking is a great way to get out in nature exercising, and the act of kayaking itself is pretty low-stress on the body. However, getting your kayak down to the water and back can be extremely strenuous. 

So, how can you make this easier?

The easiest way to get around the strain of loading and unloading your kayak onto the car and getting in and out of the water is to cut that part of the activity out completely. If you talk to your local canoe and kayak club or harbour, you should be able to keep your vessel down at the water's edge either for free or a small monthly/yearly fee. 

This is by far the best way to make kayaking easier if you're getting on a bit. However, this isn't possible for everyone and sometimes you may want to explore new waters and new landscapes. In these situations, there are still a few things you can do to make life easier for yourself. 

The most challenging part of the transportation process is hoisting your vessel on and off the roof of your car. If you're confident with a trailer, this is by far the best alternative. Trailers sit lower to the ground and make it easier to load and unload the kayak. Another option is a van. If you have a long enough load space, store the kayak in the back instead of loading it on the roof.

If you're not confident with a trailer and don't have a van, there's a few ways to make loading the kayak onto the roof of your vehicle easier. The first is to get a kayak-specific roof rack with a roller bar. This allows you to easily push the kayak onto the roof rather than lift it on. 

Another great way to load up is to get someone else to do it for you. Get your son, daughter, or even a neighbour to help you. This at least cuts half the struggle out and gets you to the water with fewer problems. 

That solves the struggle of loading and unloading your kayak on to the roof but what about getting it down to the bank and into the water? 

An absolute essential item in my opinion is a kayak trolly. These collapsible wheels strap to the rear of your kayak and allow you to pull it down to the water rather than carry it. They also allow you to load your kit onto the kayak before getting to the water, meaning less hassle, less strain, and fewer trips back and forth to the car.

Combining these ideas will make the boring part of kayaking much easier for you so you can spend all your time enjoying the water.

Safety & Efficiency: Aspects to Consider When Kayaking as an Elderly Person

There are several safety aspects to think about when kayaking. Kayaking is only as safe as you make it and providing you have the right kit, make the correct preparations, and are responsible, you shouldn't put yourself in danger.

Everyone should think about safety while kayaking, but as an elderly person, this is more important as the risk of an accident could be increased. You also want to make life as easy as possible for yourself and reduce the risk of over straining or injury. 

In this section, we won't be going into the obvious stuff such as always wearing a floatation aid, instead we'll be giving you some essential tips that'll make your kayaking ventures safer, easier, and more enjoyable.  

1. Pack Light

Packing light makes life a lot easier when you get down to the water and back. Having a lightweight kayak and lightweight kayaking gear will put a lot less strain on you. A kayak of 40lb or less will be ideal for an older paddler.

This will save your back when loading, unloading, and getting your kayak in the water, but it'll also make your paddle more enjoyable. Having a lightweight setup allows you to make more stops along the bank as pulling your kayak up onto land is a whole lot easier.

2. Get Yourself a Good Paddle

A good paddle will make your life a whole lot easier out on the water. A lightweight paddle with a good swing weight and a blade that's longer and narrower will be easier to use and more efficient. 

The right paddle (such as the Greenland paddle) will cut through the water easily and put less strain on you and your body. Look for something that's efficient with a good swing weight and you'll be able to paddle further for longer without feeling exhausted.

3. Make Loading & Unloading as Easy as Possible

We've mentioned this, but for ease we'll put it here also. Make loading and unloading as easy as possible for yourself. This is the most strenuous part of kayaking and the part where you're most likely to strain and injure yourself. 

A good roof rack, trailer, or a helping hand will make this easier. Also don't forget about a kayak trolly, these will help you get your kayak and kit to the bank easier.

4. Stretch Out Before & After Your Paddle

Stretching out before kayaking is important for people of all ages but especially important for older paddlers. Stretching beforehand will help reduce the chances of pulling a muscle during your session. Stretching afterwards will shorten your recovery times and keep you in good shape for your next trip out on the water. 

Stretching before you load up your kayak is also a good idea. Try to make a habit of stretching before you load, get to the water, and when you get back. This will ensure you stay in good health and can get out on your kayak as frequently as possible. 

5. Make Sure to Notify People When You're Out on the Water

This is an extremely important safety tip for anyone that wants to go kayaking alone. Make sure to notify a friend or family member when you're heading out on the water. 

Tell them the time you're going, where you're going, and what time you'll be back. This will allow them to notify search and rescue if you don't get back to land as expected. Of course, make sure to give your contact person a ring as soon as you're back on shore and let them know if you'll be delayed. 

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