Kayaking May Be an Ideal Activity for Those With Parkinson’s

Lori DePorter avatar

by Lori DePorter |

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As Parkinson’s disease progresses, it can become harder for someone to find physical activities they can do with others, which can affect their social life. However, a few years ago, my husband, Mike, and I discovered something we could do together: kayaking.

Like other paddle sports, kayaking incorporates many of the exercises recommended for those of us with Parkinson’s. It can improve strength and balance, and provide both cardio and amplitude training. Plus, we can do it with friends!

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Last summer, my search for either a tandem kayak or two single kayaks began and ended on the same day. Apparently, the COVID-19 pandemic had given everyone the same idea. Outdoor activities were popular, and kayaks were sold out everywhere.

Frustrated, I abandoned my retail search and pursued the online marketplace. I found an inflatable tandem kayak and drove almost an hour to procure it. It was still in the box and convenient to pack.

Convenient? Yes. Perfect? No. It was not the same as a traditional kayak. The seats weren’t sturdy enough for me to get the leverage I needed to paddle correctly. Although it wasn’t a great kayak, it was still a wonderful raft.

The perfect Christmas gift

Kayaks were back in stock for the holidays at the end of 2020, so I ordered two. Christmas morning arrived, and Mike went on a treasure hunt. After a few twists and turns, he found them at my parents’ house. We talked about our possible kayaking adventures. However, despite all of my planning, I had not considered how to transport these lovely, floating vessels.

We purchased a roof rack, two J-bars, and a plethora of tie-down straps for our car. We were ready to go! However, we immediately realized that two kayaks and only two of us presented a challenge. Maneuvering the kayaks made me keenly aware of both my positional tremor and my limited range of motion. It took effort, but we managed to get them on the car.

The moment of truth

It was time for a test drive. The route to our house from my parents’ house was less than 3 miles. My anxiety was off the charts, but we kept going. Feeling confident and reaching the speed limit, we approached the final turn into our neighborhood. Suddenly, the car was turning right, but the front of the kayak was going left. Tremoring and laughing at the same time, we pulled over, fixed the strap, and proceeded home.

A few days later, we were successful. We finally got them out on the lake. It was beautiful and a great workout. It’s challenging to get in and out of a kayak gracefully, though it’s a good balance exercise. I recommend watching a tutorial video to explore different options.

Many companies offer rental kayaks and local group paddling tours if you want to include friends or make new ones.

If you have Parkinson’s, how do you maintain your social life? What types of activities can you do with friends? Have you tried a paddle sport? Be sure to visit the Parkinson’s News Today Forums and share your stories.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Mickeal Hargrove avatar

Mickeal Hargrove

My daughters fiancee had told me, he was going over to a house he had heard had some kayaks for sale, and told me what he was planning to buy. He then told me they had another one for sale but it was a little bit higher on price than the one he was grabbing and a little bit bigger kayak.. I asked him if I could join him.. We went over there and well, I got myself that other one he had told me about while he grabbed what he was after..
We been using them to go out and go fishing with. I get a good work out going up and down the creek and into the the lake, even at a private pond.. I get a work out from the paddling and from the fishing.. I've just got to work on my balance on trying to get in and out of them... I generally have him to help me get back out of the kayak, but the other day he was still down stream with a friend that went along with us. Well, I didn't have that balance right in standing up there on the bank and over I fell... It was cool, wet and muddy... lol... I've enjoyed it though. We generally keep the decent fish, and if we don't feel up to cleaning them, we give them to others that can use the food..
I'm going to have to go and check out that link for which you give , "get in and out of a kayak - video"..
Thank you its good to know that's to be of good exercise for me..
Mickeal Hargrove

Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

Thank you for sharing. I have not tried fishing from my kayak. I was happy to see there were videos for getting in and out of them....we are not alone in that challenge! Keep paddling!

Andrea Cohen avatar

Andrea Cohen

Hi Lori,

How long was it before you lost some of your balance and mobility. I ws diagnosed 2.5 years ago and my probems are more centered around sleep and anxiety. I love rock steady boxing and still live a very active life.

Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

Andrea - My balance and mobility are still good but I work on my balance every day. I too have sleep and anxiety issues....exercise helps both of these as well. Keep exercising and keep moving!!

Mickeal Hargrove avatar

Mickeal Hargrove

Thanks Lori..

Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

You are very welcome! I love to hear from our readers!


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