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ROW, ROW, ROW for Your Health!

Healthy Living


No matter what your age is, a fitness plan that includes cardio (or aerobic exercise) is an important contributor to your overall health. The benefits of regular aerobic exercise include weight loss, increased stamina, and a stronger immune system. Endorphins released while you work out can also help improve your mood and sleep quality. Because it requires the use of so many major muscle groups, a rowing machine is an effective way to raise your heart rate and increase your oxygen intake for an effective cardio workout. The adjustable resistance on most rowers lets you easily work up to your target heart rate as well as slow back down to your resting rate. Great for weight loss, toning and building muscles, and increasing stamina, this machine is a fitness game changer. Rowers work out several major muscle groups and will help you develop both your upper and lower body. Most importantly, using a rowing machine gets your heart pumping and lungs working, providing a serious aerobic workout.

It has been called the “new spinning.” Yet this fitness craze is based on a sport that dates back to Ancient Egypt, and the machine itself has been around since the Civil War era. So why, suddenly, has rowing skimmed ahead of many modern fitness fads and longtime cardio standards? Besides the fact that “vintage is in,” it seems this age-old workout is finally gaining speed and getting its proper due with mainstream America. And it’s well placed. Rowing is high intensity and low impact, so it’s a win-win at the onset. Even better – when it’s done correctly, rowing engages about 85% of your muscles. Now that’s a championship workout!

There’s a proper technique to oaring, though, both in and out of the water. Below are a few training tips to help you maximize the benefits of your rowing routine:

  • Don’t Grip the Handles Too Tightly. This will protect your hands and forearms from pain and soreness later.
  • Lead with Your Legs. If you’re doing it right, your leg (and butt) muscles should be doing the most work.
  • Legs, Hips, Arms – Reverse! This is the progression of movement for rowing. Very important!
  • Pull Straight Back. If you’re pulling back – not up – your body should stay firmly seated throughout the workout.
  • Pull with Your Legs, NOT Your Arms. Keep your elbows straight, but relaxed, while your legs are doing the heft.
  • Sit Up Straight. Maintain good posture throughout; your entire core should be in line all the way down to your seat.
  • Breathe Well. Exhale going backward; inhale going forward.
  • Stay Fluid. Don’t drive the seat into your feet; keep your motion steady and smooth to the finish – not choppy.

So, who’s ready to row? It’s a great workout for all ages and fitness levels. Best of all, you don’t need an Ivy League coach, eight-man crew or frigid winter waters – just your neighborhood Y!

-Jean Bowick

YMCA of Greater Birmingham, 

Read more healthy information from the YMCA at Click on News/Health

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