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If there’s ever been a game-changer in the workout world, in our humble opinion it would have to be a good ole’ rowing machine. At first glance, you might think you’re just working out your arms and hands, but it goes beyond that – in fact, a couple of hours a week on a rowing machine checks off practically all the requirements of a good workout, from thorough cardio and muscle toning to calorie burning and weight loss. And all with low impact on your back and joints, and with the rush of endorphins after a good 30 minutes to an hour session giving you that electric post-workout high. The machine gives you a full upper and lower body workout to boot, ideal for wide age and fitness ranges, and anything from low-impact exercising to hardcore CrossFit programs, letting you get into shape without the risk of hurting or overexerting yourself.
Need a little more persuasion to jump aboard the rowing bandwagon (or should we say ‘boat’?) Let’s take a closer look at all the benefits there are to reap from getting into rowing.
Cardiovascular or aerobic exercising, typically referred to as just ‘cardio’, is not just great for improving your overall physical fitness, but also your overall emotional well-being and health. Cardio is frequently cited as helping prevent or alleviate the probability of diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, and more, and is the cornerstone of any good fitness program.
For the uninitiated, this might sound like something grueling demanding Herculean effort and dedication, but it really isn’t as intimidating as some fitness programs may sometimes make it sound. At its simplest, cardiovascular exercise is activity which elevates your heart rate and rate of respiration.
More explicitly, though, cardio involves exercise which strengthens the heart, a muscle, enabling it to pump more blood per heartbeat, also known as the stroke volume. Greater stroke volumes mean the needs of your body during exercise and activity are met more easily, since the heart is capable of pumping more oxygenated blood per beat without straining itself. Meanwhile, since the rest of your body subsequently receives more oxygenated blood more quickly, the muscles in action as you work out don’t have to get overexerted as they function.
As a low-impact exercise that doesn’t put strain on your joints and back, this makes rowing a great way for beginners and older workout junkies to ease into a cardio routine, since rowing machines feature variable resistance depending on how hard or fast you’re rowing, so you can moderate the intensity of your workout as you need to. In the long-term, this doesn’t just help prevent and reduce the likelihoods of a plethora of diseases and medical conditions, but also works to improve your stamina, emotional well-being, immune system as well as helps you shed weight – which leads us to our next couple of points.
There is no shortage of testimonials by dedicated rowers about how effective this workout activity is for weight loss – and for good reason. A thorough 30-minute workout on a rowing machine can burn over 300 calories, a full hour burning an average of 600. Rowing being a well-balanced workout which utilities your whole body, you’ll see yourself bidding goodbye to the excess pounds in a matter of weeks, making this an especially ideal cardio option if your primary objective is to lose weight.
Endurance and stamina
Rigorous cardio thanks to regular rowing sessions help to improve your endurance and stamina by improving your heart and lungs’ capacity to aid your muscles as they exert themselves. This doesn’t only mean you hold up better during and after exercise sessions, though – a healthier cardiovascular system allows you to be more energetic and active throughout the day, combating lethargy and overexertion as well as putting you in a good mood thanks to endorphins released from a good workout, chemicals which trigger a positive, uplifting feeling in you. In other words, you won’t get tired as easily, get more done in a day, and even sleep better, thanks to rowing sessions fine-tuning your body and bringing you up to tip-top shape.
We keep saying this, but there is no harm in reiteration when it’s to underline such an important point – rowing keeps the strain off your joints and back, but this doesn’t mean it shirks off giving you a full-body workout. Rowing thoroughly works the muscles of both your upper and lower body, strengthening your back and shoulder muscles and improving your posture, strengthening your core and trunk, as well as giving your glutes, calves and quads a thorough workout. If you’re looking specifically to tone muscle and strengthen your core, powering through increased resistance as you row harder and faster gets you feeling the burn, so to speak.
Rowers are accessible and popular machines in gyms everywhere, but if you’re not comfortable working out in a public space, don’t have a convenient gym near you, or don’t have the time to adhere to gym memberships and hours, you can simply opt for a rowing machine at home. This gives you the opportunity to seek out a machine perfect for yourself, depending on factors like your height and weight, for instance. The right machine lets you secure your feet to the stirrups with your shins at 90 degrees to the floor, allowing you to keep your spine straight as you row comfortably and fluidly.
Rowing machines are also not complicated to use – you won’t have to work with challenging equipment or strain-prone weights, and won’t need any special gear apart from the machine itself to get to it. If you choose to work out at home, this pretty much means getting to exercise at your own leisure, whenever you want to, even if it is in front of the TV without worrying about color-coordinating gym clothes three times a week. Since it’s possible to get a rowing machine for your home under a reasonable price-tag, it’s both a practical and pocket-friendly exercise alternative to having to hit the gym every week, especially since many air- and water-resistance models don’t need electricity to run.