Rowing seems to be a more popular form of exercise now than ever before. In fact, last year Harper’s Bazaar named rowing “the new spinning,” as boutique rowing studios are quickly cropping up all over the country. Kate Middleton reportedly turned to rowing to get in some serious shape. And as if that weren’t reason enough to take up rowing, rowing has a myriad of health benefits to offer. Here are some of the many health benefits you’ll enjoy when you make rowing a regular form of exercise.
Full Body Workout
Rowing just might be the world’s most efficient exercise. While many believe that rowing is mainly an exercise of the arms, you’d be surprised at how deeply it exercises the legs and core as well. With each rowing stroke, you’re working out every major muscle group in the body, including your legs, hips, buttocks, shoulders, back, arms, and core.
While rowing provides you with some great, thorough strength training, it also gives you an intense cardio workout. In fact, many prefer rowing to running and cycling as their primary form of cardio exercise. Just like running and cycling, rowing is a sustained form of exercise that keeps your heart rate and your breath volume up. As you continue to row over time, you’ll notice that your overall cardiovascular fitness—and therefore heart health—is steadily increasing.
Gain Muscular Strength and Endurance
There is a significant difference between muscular strength and muscular endurance. Muscular strength refers to how much weight a particular muscle group can lift a single time; muscular endurance, meanwhile, refers to how much weight a particular muscle group can lift repeatedly over a period of time. Rowing helps you gain both muscular strength and muscular endurance (with more focus on muscular endurance). The repeated motions of pushing and pulling against resistance challenge your muscles to continue exerting force throughout your workout, and as you increase your resistance over time, your muscles will become stronger and stronger.
Stabilize Your Body
Sure, it’s great to work out your muscles, but many neglect working out those smaller muscles that work to stabilize your body. Rowing in a boat, in particular, works out those stabilizer and neutralizer muscles that help keep you from falling and from hurting your back when lifting heavy objects at awkward angles. This means that your body will become better equipped at handling off-balance movements overall.
Burn Serious Calories (and Lose Weight)
With all of these things so far in mind, it’s no surprise that rowing burns some serious calories; some even say that it burns two to three times the calories you burn in a spin class. Rowing works you out especially quickly because you see resistance in both directions, forward and back. According to Harvard Health Publications, a 125-pound individual rowing at a moderate pace and resistance for 30 minutes will burn about 210 calories. How many calories you burn will depend on your speed, resistance, and length of time, of course. In short, if you’re looking to lose weight, rowing might be the perfect option for you.
As this article explains, rowing is a low impact exercise, making it a perfect exercise for those who have arthritis or who experience chronic joint pain. Rowing and rowing machines do provide resistance, however this resistance usually isn’t strong enough to damage the cartilage in your shoulders, elbows, and knees. Yet you’ll still see significant results as you continue rowing over time.
There’s no doubt about it—rowing also helps to reduce stress. Whether you’re using a rowing machine or rowing out on the water, the regular, rhythmic motions of rowing work to put your mind at ease. And if you happen to have a rowing machine at home, you’ll enjoy always having a thorough, no-nonsense workout as your go-to on days when you can’t be bothered to hit the gym. In addition, rowing on a regular basis—just like doing just about any form of exercise on a regular basis—will actually change how your body responds to stress overall, causing it to respond to stress less quickly and more efficiently.