Rowing – The Absolute Best Fitness Activity on the Water


For the past few weeks, I have been discussing various fun fitness activities on the water. For my final blog in the series on water activities, I have chosen to discuss the most serious of them all: rowing.

Compared to SUP, dragon boating and canoeing/kayaking, rowing provides the greatest fitness as you use your leg muscles, as well as your arm muscles for power. In the other activities, your legs may brace you and balance you but they don’t propel you through the water as they do in rowing. Because your arms and legs are working together you will maximize your fitness.

Rowing originated in ancient Egypt but the birthplace of modern rowing is England.

There are two forms of rowing:

·         In Sweep or sweep-oar rowing, each rower has one oar, held with both hands. This is generally done in pairs, fours, and eights. The boats usually have a coxswain who steers the boat and directs the crew/rowers.

·         In Sculling, each rower has two oars (or sculls), one in each hand. Sculling is usually done without a coxswain in singles, doubles or quads

Rowing, when not competing, is one of the more calming sports to do, especially in the early mornings when the water is calm and the setting is peaceful. Rowing is an excellent form of exercise, not only because it is good for your health, but also because it can be done solo or as a team to build teamwork. There is something both relaxing and motivating about being on the water.

Health Benefits of Rowing:

1.       Burns body fat – as a cardiovascular exercise, rowing can help to burn body fat and it can easily burn up to 600 calories per hour. This is true for indoor and outdoor rowing

2.       Increases your cardiovascular fitness – If you do steady state rowing or high intensity intervals, rowing will improve your cardiovascular fitness.

3.       Offers low impact fitness with high results – Rowing exercises all major muscle groups in the body from your legs to your core to your back and arms. It is a low impact sport and if done with correct technique has a low rate of injury

4.       Builds muscle strength – Rowing will develop your quadriceps, core, shoulders and back

5.       Reduces Stress – As with most other sports, rowing can be stress reducing, especially with the calming effect of being on the water

If you ever get the chance to row on the water, I encourage you to do it. The feeling of gliding over the water is blissful. If you aren’t able to row on the water, you can still get the aerobic and strength benefits with indoor rowing. It is, hands down, the best activity for cardiovascular fitness. For proper technique




Andre Gordon