- Pedal boats are a good source of cardiovascular exercise.
- You can burn between 140 and 330 calories per hour while paddle boating.
- A paddle boat with pedals works the glutes, thighs, and calves the most.
- There are core-strength benefits to pedal boating.
- A pedal boat is not necessarily the same thing as a paddle boat.
The best exercise is one that you enjoy doing, and if that happens to be a pedal boat, then you’re in luck! Here is a look at the benefits of pedal boating.
Pedal boating is great exercise. It offers mental health and cardio benefits while working your glutes, calves, and thighs. A pedal boat offers a good workout similar to that of a bike but on the water, hence the nickname “water bikes.”
We love looking at less common ways to get good exercise. Through expert fitness advice and personal experience on what's fun and comfortable, we hope to help you learn everything you need to know before considering a pedal boat workout.
Getting Good Exercise from a Pedal Boat
When you get right down to it, any way you can get yourself moving and your heart rate up is going to be good exercise.
Beyond that, you need to consider what you enjoy, what is safe for your body, and the results you're hoping to get out of working on fitness.
All exercise is better than no exercise, but you can get different things out of different workouts. Let's break down why pedal boating might be a good form of exercise for you.
Don’t confuse these boats with a paddle board! Paddle boards are very different.
Paddle boarding isn’t bad as far as other exercises go, though.
How Many Calories Does Pedal Boating Burn?
You can burn between 140 and 330 calories per hour while pedal boating at a moderate pace.
How many calories are burned depends on a few factors: your weight, current fitness level, the intensity of your effort, and the entire time you spend out on the water.
Keep in mind that calories burned don't always tell the whole story.
You will also be working many muscles and increasing cardiovascular endurance while out on the water.
Just building muscle and cardio endurance will lead to more calories burned in the long run since you’ll be able to work out for longer and at a higher intensity.
What Are the Health Benefits of Low-Intensity Cardio Exercise?
Cardio, like what you get from paddle boats, is a crucial part of any fitness routine.
Some health benefits associated with even low-intensity cardiovascular exercise include:
- improved blood circulation and reduced blood pressure
- better oxygen supply to the organs and muscles
- lower cholesterol levels
- improve overall cardiovascular health in everyday tasks
- increased energy levels
- reduce stress
A more technical term for gentle cardio is LISS or Low-Intensity Steady State, as opposed to high-intensity interval training.
This type of exercise, like a pedal boat ride, is all about staying at the same tempo for a long period.
You should aim for around 150 minutes of LISS exercise per week.
Other Benefits of Pedal Boating/Paddle Boats
Aside from burning calories and building muscle, pedal boating offers more advantages over other forms of exercise.
- Low-Impact on the Joints: Unlike running, paddle boats put significantly less strain on the knees. This makes pedal boating an excellent form of low-impact exercise for people with chronic joint pain or weak/replaced knees.
- Joint Strength: Pedal boating doesn't just put a low strain on the knees; it can strengthen them over time, too. The muscles around the joint build up, lending it strength and resilience. Keeping your joints moving can stave off injury at other times outside of exercising.
- Balance: Your balance and coordination can improve doing things like pedal boating. Having to steer the paddle boat rudder and keep the boat level will improve your stability over time.
- Mental Health Benefits: Spending time outside and around bodies of water is often associated with improved mental health and lower anxiety. Working out in a gym on a stationary bike will give many of the same physical benefits, but getting outdoors will yield huge mental health benefits on top of the physical. Paddle boats are a great excuse to get out there!
Does Pedal Boating Burn Belly Fat?
Yes, pedal boating will burn belly fat because of the size and quantity of muscles used.
While it's 100% not possible to target certain areas to burn fat, exercising as a whole will help you lose fat from all over your body.
Pedal boating is a great way to get in some cardio and build those lower body leg muscles while slowly shedding body fat if that's one of your goals.
What Leg Muscles Does a Pedal Boat Work? (And Others)
Pedal boating is a good source of exercise because it engages large muscle groups like the glutes, thighs, and calves.
The more muscle mass an activity uses, the more calories it burns and effort it takes.
These boats also target some core areas like the abdominal muscles and obliques between your ribs and hips.
Core strength is important for posture, balance, and overall whole-body fitness.
Paddle boating is more of an entire-body form of exercise than people give it credit for.
Can One Person Use a Pedal Boat?
Yes, one person can use a pedal boat even if it's made for two or more people, as long as the boat has a steering lever or wheel.
There are a rare few pedal boat models made for one person, but they can be pricey, complicated, and hard to track down.
Most two-person models will suit a single person just fine.
If you're dead set on a one-person pedal boat, this foot-powered kayak is a great option.
Are Pedal Boats Easy?
Pedal boats are among the easiest-to-operate boats you can buy.
For this reason, they're great for families and newcomers to the boating world.
They are affordable compared to other boats, and the lack of a motor means there's no need for fuel or batteries.
Do Pedal Boats Tip Over?
If you don't follow proper safety procedures or maintenance on the boat, yes, pedal boats can tip over just like any other boat.
Follow the safety instructions provided by the manufacturer, don't overload the paddle boats, and keep an eye out for bad weather.
Tip-overs aren't a big deal, though. If you're wearing life jackets and keeping your cool, getting the boat right side up again is easy and quick.
How Many People Can Fit on a Pedal Boat?
Pedal boats can accommodate up to five people, depending on the size and model.
The maximum amount of weight your boat can handle is usually printed either on the side of the hull or on the manufacturer's label.
Never ever put more people or weight on the boat than stated in order to avoid any kind of accident.
What is the Difference Between a Pedal and Paddle Boat?
This is a common source of confusion because the names sound so similar, but a pedal boat and a paddle boat are two different things.
A pedal boat is powered by riders using pedals attached to cranks that turn a propeller or other source of thrust to move the vessel forward in the water.
A paddle boat, on the other hand, is powered by a paddlewheel, which is exactly what it sounds like, a wheel of paddles.
This means that many pedal boats are also paddle boats, but the opposite is not true.
Often the terms paddle boat/paddle boats are used interchangeably with the more correct term.
When you’re making a purchase, double-check that the paddle boats you’re looking at have actual pedals; also, make sure it’s not a paddle board, which is another thing entirely.
How Much Does a Pedal Boat Cost?
There are pedal boats available at a wide range of price points.
- Pelican Sport 5-Seat Pedal Boat $1,499: This model from Pelican is a solid, moderately-priced option that will suit pretty much any family in the market for a pedal boat.
- Spatium Water Bike $1,149: We love this product; it's quite literally a water bike. Technically an "inflatable kayak," it provides a one-person ped boating experience.
- Pelican Monaco 4-Seater $799: This is a great budget option for those looking for a reliable pedal boat.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson