Rowing for Cardio and Health

by | Mar 26, 2009 | Exercise and Fitness, Health | 0 comments


Yesterday I switched things up for my regular aerobic workout and did my cardio on the rowing machine. Whew…I forgot what a great whole-body workout you can get on a rowing machine.

If you’re one to always head to the treadmill, bike, or elliptical machine – I’d encourage you to check out the benefits of adding even a few minutes of rowing to your aerobic workout program and here’s why:

  1. Rowing is definitely a whole-body exercise – your upper body, core and back strength is a huge part of the workout.
  2. Rowing can help improve your coordination, sense of rhythm/pacing, and body awareness.
  3. You can easily vary the intensity of your workouts
    Work harder by:

    • Increasing your speed & rowing faster.
    • Pushing with your legs and pulling with your arms with more power and intensity.
  4. Rowing can help balance the strength of the front and back of the thighs to keep your knees safe and injury free. The glutes and quadriceps muscles assist in straightening the legs, the hamstrings work to bend the knees and return to your start position.
  5. In a less-than full weight-bearing position, rowing works the leg and hip joints in a full range of motion – which is beneficial for increasing joint range of motion and assisting with building bone density.
  6. If you don’t like doing sit-ups, or a lot of weight training…. Rowing effectively targets strengthening your abdominals and back muscles. If you do enjoy ab work and weights – you can put your strong muscles to good use and use rowing as a cross-training fitness activity.
  7. Rowing is fantastic for developing strong core muscles. If you do Pilates training, or other targeted core activities – rowing is a great additional workout activity to apply what you’ve been discovering about your body.
  8. If you don’t want to do a full 20-60 minutes of cardio on the rower… Row for 5 minutes as an excellent warm-up for your workout.

If you’re not used to rowing – start with 5-10 minutes and progress to a full-length cardio workout. I like a good 25-40 minutes of moderate paced rowing for a training session, or sometimes will alternate 5-10 minutes of rowing with other cardio or strength training activities for a great interval workout.

There are usually at least one or two rowing machines at every health club. (And chances are you won’t be waiting in line to get on one and start your workout!) Incorporate rowing into your weekly, or monthly workout plan, and enjoy the great benefits this fitness activity has to offer.

I would love to hear about your rowing experience! Drop me a comment and tell me what you’ve discovered about your body, you’re health, and rowing as a new cross-training activity in your weekly workout program. Find fun activities you love to do and get out and play to improve your whole-body health and fitness!

Aliesa George: Over the past three decades, Aliesa George has helped assist people with their personal health journeys by sharing, teaching, and developing Pilates, Foot Fitness, and other Mind-Body programs.


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