Whether you are 17 or 70, rowing could be the low-impact, high-benefit activity you are looking for to stay active, healthy, and social. Outside of a great workout, however, what does rowing have to offer? You might be surprised.
As an exercise in spine lengthening and strengthening, rowing promotes good posture (and can help reverse bad posture habits). The pervasive slumping and slouching which accompanies a largely sedentary lifestyle full of sitting (at school, at work, watching TV, on the computer and other devices) has led to widespread posture issues including Forward Head Syndrome. Forward Head Syndrome, where your neck and head crane forward past your shoulders when sitting and standing, can lead to major health issues including back pain, diminished lung capacity, poor digestion, and even heart issues.
The combination of weak back muscles and tight chests leads to rounder shoulders and hunched body positions. In addition to helping stretch the spine, loosen joints, and promote overall flexibility and greater range of motion, rowing cues your shoulders to sit neutrally aligned with your neck and spine by reinforcing weak back muscles and opening the chest.
Total Body Enhancement
There is no wonder that indoor rowing is trending as an “it” exercise for 2017. Veteran rowers especially know that the physical activity of rowing engages not just the upper body (triceps, back, biceps, and shoulders), but 5 additional muscle groups including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats, and core. Not only that, but the cardiorespiratory workout you get helps increase lung capacity and strengthen the heart muscle – all key factors for preventing heart disease down the line. When you’re not rowing, you will feel the effects of your total body workout in your everyday life – greater energy, improved strength and flexibility, better balance, and even reduced stress.
Unlike solo running or individual weightlifting circuits, rowing incorporates exercise with community building, educating you on lessons of working with others, communication, and teamwork. Like with many team sports, the success of the group is a result of each individual working seamlessly together to form a machine of efficiency and power. When you row in a boat with a team, however, the degree of attention and vigilant mentality of togetherness is even greater. Winning or losing, success or failure can depend on one single stroke, so working together to hit every mark at precisely the same moment is key.
Considered a “low impact” activity because it does not require both feet to ever leave the ground together, rowing is an accessible sport to almost every generation and fitness level. As rowing engages a range of your body’s muscle groups, it also burns loads of calories. A March 2017 study from Harvard University found that in 30 minutes of moderate stationary rowing, a 125-pound person burned 210 calories, a 155-pound person 260 calories, and a 185-pound person 311 calories.
The nature of rowing also makes it a joint-friendly non-weight bearing exercise, as opposed to running; this is good for the millions of people who experience various forms of joint inflammation and arthritis. If you experience foot or leg pain from injury, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, or tendinitis, taking advantage of orthotic aids like a foam insole, ankle brace, or hammer toe crest pad can give you the support and pain relief you need to keep up with your rowing. At least 30 minutes of routine exercise every day promotes long-term health benefits including weight management and preventing heart disease, cognitive decline, and diabetes.
Rowing is an altogether unique exercise that ultimately benefits both the body and mind. Whether it’s the consistent, rhythmic back and forth that helps calm and focus your energies, or the interaction with fellow rowers which boosts your own confidence and mood, for young and old, the benefits of rowing will appear in your life in more ways than you know.