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The Benefits of Rowing

Physical

Like all forms of exercise, rowing benefits:

  • Weight loss
  • Reducing risk of heart disease
  • Managing blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Can help with quitting smoking and other addictive behaviours
  • Mental Health
  • Bone density
  • Muscle Strength
  • Reduce risk of some forms of cancer
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve hormone balances
  • Increased life expectancy

Heart

Rowers often have some of the highest VO2 Max readings (how efficiently your body consumes the oxygen it breaths in), lowest resting heart rates and highest lung capacities.


The Rowing stroke works the body in a very unique way. For something like Running or Cycling, you use one leg at a time, as a result, there is only one leg that is tensed and under tension at a time. This makes it slightly easier for the body to supply blood to that area. For a full body exercise like swimming or Cross Country Skiing, the body is using almost all the muscles in your body to perform that exercise, except it uses those parts individually and at different times during the application of the exercise. While this is again great conditioning for the body, it is still slightly easier for it to supply blood to the areas it is needed. For Rowing, a full body exercise as well, all of the muscles used during the drive are being applied at the same time. This results in high tension in the body and gives a high resistance that your heart needs to pump blood against. If you imagine holding a straw in your hand and trying to blow air through it with your fist relaxed versus your fist clenched, you will get an idea of what the heart has to do in order to supply your muscles with the blood it needs. Uniquely, this causes the heart to develop a thicker muscular wall in order to deal with the demands of the multi muscular resistance of a rowing stroke. A feature that is unique to rowing.

Brain

 

A study conducted at Otago University in New Zealand found another unique feature with Rowing. Tests on the brain were conducted on University rowers while performing a maximum effort for 2000m. They found that unlike other sports, when nearing maximum effort, blood flow to the brain slows down and eventually is reduced nearing exhaustion. With rowing, the blood flow to the brain continually increased as the 2000m test went on, surpassing tests done in other sports.

 

This was the first study of this type done and was only tested on experienced and conditioned rowers, so it is not possible to draw firm conclusions from the study. However, it is possible to hypothesise through anecdotal examples of people finding Rowing giving them more focus and structure to their lives and also find they have improved discipline. 

 

https://worldrowing.com/2015/12/29/blood-flow-the-brain-different-rowers/

Physical

Like all forms of exercise, rowing benefits:

  • Weight loss
  • Reducing risk of heart disease
  • Managing blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Can help with quitting smoking and other addictive behaviours
  • Mental Health
  • Bone density
  • Muscle Strength
  • Reduce risk of some forms of cancer
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve hormone balances
  • Increased life expectancy

Confidence and Discipline

 

The nature of Rowing is its repetition. Rowers often cite the reason they row is for the tranced moment of being in the “zone”.  This repetition embeds a belief into people who row that improvement can simply be achieved through simply repetition and focus. The more you repeat the rowing stroke and the more you focus while doing so, the greater your improvement. Rowing gives you this feedback of improvement very clearly, when you’ve become fitter on the rowing machine, the splits are lower, or it feels easier at a pace that was once difficult. When a technical change is made, the feedback is instant, provided in the feel of the boat running. Not many other sports give such a definitive and instant form of feedback and its quantity is directly related with how much repetition and focus is put into the stroke. From this experience, Rowers affirm a belief that many of life’s challenges and goals can be reached through the simple process of repetition and focus. 

On top of these reasons, rowing and indoor rowing is an incredibly welcoming sport. Its very accessible and the eqipment is in most public gyms. It is very low impact and people often join the sport at an older age picking it up in their 50s, 60s and beyond. Rowing is also one of the most gender balanced sports with nearly a 50/50 split.