It’s one of the more calming sports to do, especially in the early mornings when the water is calm and the setting is peaceful. Rowing is an excellent form of exercise, not only because it is good for your health, but also because it can be done solo or as a team to build teamwork. There is something both relaxing and motivating about being on the water. Once you learn the proper technique, rowing can offer a tremendous amount of physical health benefits, including increased power and strength. But even if you don’t have access to water and a boat, your local gym has rowing machines (ergometer) that simulate the same movement and resistance as being on the water.
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Promotes healthy body composition: Rowing can help maintain a healthy balance of fat mass and fat-free mass in your body. If an analysis of your body composition indicates that your body fat is high, rowing can be a good way to burn off fat, as it is predominantly an aerobic sport. In fact, you can easily burn up to 600 calories per hour.
- Enhances cardio-respiratory system: Rowing enhances your lung’s ability to provide oxygen to the blood, heart and the rest of your body. A lack of cardio-respiratory fitness is closely linked to heart disease. The good news is that improving your aerobic fitness can be done in short intervals, so it does not take too much time out of your day. All you need is 30 minutes of steady state exercise – or 10 minutes of high intensity intervals – in the boat or on the rowing machine.
- Offers low impact exercise with high results: Both competitive and recreational rowing are unique in comparison to most sports because they exercise all of your major muscle groups. Everything from your legs, back and arms are engaged while rowing. In addition, rowing is a low-impact sport. When executed properly, the rowing stroke is a fairly safe motion, providing little room for the serious injury often found in contact and high-impact sports.
- Promotes weight loss: Competitive rowers expend almost twice the number of calories on a 2,000-meter course as a runner in a 3,000-meter steeplechase. However, since rowing is low impact, you will not experience the same wear and tear on your body and joints as you would if you were a runner. Plus, you build strength in your upper body and core.
- Helps the heart: Cardiovascular training involves any activity that requires the use of the large muscle groups of the body in a regular and uninterrupted manner. Rowing is one of the few non-weight bearing sports that exercises all the major muscle groups.
- Builds muscle strength: The primary muscles that rowers work are the quadriceps, the large muscles in front of your thighs. These muscles are necessary for extending the knee, and they also serve as hip flexors, which allow you to make powerful leg movements. As your quadriceps become stronger, activities and exercises such as walking, jogging, lunges and squats can be done more efficiently and with greater strength and your next spin class will be a breeze.
- Reduces stress: The consistent and rhythmic activity associated with rowing, combined with being outdoors on the water, has an unparalleled impact on reducing stress.
- Stabilizes the body: Rowing in a boat requires the stabilizer and neutralizer muscles to fire up. Those same muscles might help to avoid a fall or help keep you from hurting your back when lifting a child or a heavy box awkwardly. Your core, or trunk, becomes stronger and better prepared to handle off-balanced movement.
- Improves muscle and joint mobility: Rowing conditions many different muscles and joints without straining them, making this exercise ideal for those with arthritis or osteoporosis. The muscles and joints experience a wide range of movement during rowing, which will eventually minimize stiffness and increase flexibility. If you live a sedentary lifestyle or become stiff after long periods of inactivity, loosen your muscles and joints by rowing at a moderate pace for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Offers a full-body exercise: A rowing machine works the lower and middle back, hamstrings, calves, gluteal muscles and biceps. Rowing works more body parts than most cardiovascular machines, and it provides a low-impact exercise that people of various fitness levels can complete comfortably.