Looking for a lifetime sport? How about one that exercises the major muscle groups: legs, arms, back, abdominals and buttocks. Add to the equation the serenity of water, and you have rowing.
Getting into a boat and on the water is quickly becoming a favorite exercise for mature adults. Unlike many of the weight-bearing sports, rowing does not cause impact on the joints. It can safely be done at any age. In fact, the 50+ age groups are the fastest growing divisions.
Cam Jones, an 84-year-old elite rower from California, said that perhaps 40% of the competitive rowers he sees are age 50+. “The exercise benefits draw people to rowing,” commented Jones. “The comradeship and fitness factor encourage them to become serious. Soon, they are lifetime rowers.”
Steve Seiler, Ph.D. has seen these benefits and several others. While a candidate for a doctorate in exercise physiology at the University of Texas, he began a five-year study of 400 rowers over age 40. These athletes row five or more days a week for an average of 50 minutes. Three years into the study, some interesting patterns are forming. “Compared to the population at large, we are not seeing weight problems, heart disease, or diabetes,” Seller told us. “Their usage of medication is also low.”
When asked how individuals with knee or hip replacements are faring, Seiler had positive feedback. “Twenty-three individuals, most over the age of 60, have had knee or hip replacements. They are all still rowing, reporting little or no interference.” Seiler emphasized that replacement parts have a finite lifespan, and it is too early to determine if rowing will hasten the need for another replacement.
Seiler’s favorite story is of a gentleman who five years ago weighed 400 pounds. A healthy diet and daily rowing resulted in a 200-pound weigh loss. His weight has remained stable for 3 years.
Rowing is categorized as a superior form of exercise. What are some of the benefits?
Rowing is a smooth motion, rhythmic and impact-free. In addition to being a lifetime activity, for most of us, it is safe to start at any age. Rowing is self-pacing, thus you can work at your own speed, level or interest.
Rowing exercises muscles through a wide range of motion, thereby improving and maintaining flexibility around some of the major joints. It is one of the few aerobic exercises that can actually strengthen your back.
If time is of the essence, rowing gives you an aerobic and strength workout in a short period of time. For these reasons, it is also a great calorie burner.