If you’re new to the world of rowing, then you may have watched rowers on TV at the Olympics or training on your local river. They can look intimidatingly athletic and coordinated. This may have put you off investigating the sport for yourself, but there are so many different ways in which anybody can benefit from taking up the sport. The health benefits of rowing extend beyond the physical body to take in all sorts of mental health benefits too. It’s a great way to release endorphins, get the blood flowing and meet a whole host of brand new friends. Read on to find out why rowing makes for such a healthy hobby.
Rowing makes for a great total body workout, increasing muscle strength, balance, posture, stamina, joint mobility and cardiovascular health. Whilst it does require a certain level of fitness to get started, it can be approached from a variety of different levels ranging from beginner all the way up to competitive athlete. It is a low impact form of exercise but with significant results to the body and overall health.
Despite first appearances, the strength of a rower does not come from their visibly working arms but rather from their powerful legs. The act of rowing can build considerable muscle in the legs, mainly using the hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteus maximus. If you find yourself relying on your arms to propel yourself when rowing, then you need to readdress your technique. Let your legs with their superior muscle mass take the brunt of the exercise and watch as you gain strength in this area.
Rowing also engages your core muscles and forces you to sit with good posture, therefore improving your balance and protecting your spine. The act of rowing constitutes aerobic exercise and so is also great for building stamina. The impact of rowing on the cardio-respiratory system can be incredibly beneficial, as it promotes increased blood flow to important internal organs like the lungs and heart. These qualities are fantastic for improving health and wellbeing overall and are also transferable features which can be used in other sports.
Rowing can be supremely beneficial for your mental health. The repetitive action of rowing on the water can help you to achieve a state of mindfulness as you concentrate on making even, measured strokes and coordinating with your teammates. It can also do wonders for enhancing focus and concentration. Whereas off the water you may want to use activities like sudoku, blackjack and crosswords to focus the mind, rowing is a great way to improve in this area in a practical manner. Whilst the rhythmic nature of rowing does make an ideal stressbuster, the act of staying in time and making uniform strokes requires concentration and attention to detail.
Just as many people who suffer from depression and anxiety find running can help them enormously, so many regular rowers find that rowing has helped their mental health and even acted as a restabilising force during turbulent life events. If you make sure to row on open water at least once a week, rather than relying just on the gym, then you will also benefit from being outside and breathing in some restorative fresh air.
Having Fun and Socialising
One of the biggest perks of joining a rowing club or team is the social aspect. Perhaps one of the most important parts of being in a team is the ability to work well together, and of course, this can lead to the formation of firm friendships. Learning a new skill means looking to other, more experienced rowers for guidance but there is something to be learnt from every team member. A fresh approach to rowing can offer just as much insight as years of experience. This collaborative team effort brings members closer together and encourages them to rely on one another, whether during practice or competition.
Inevitably, members of a rowing team will also want to socialise off the water, cementing that special bond and having fun in the process. If your team takes part in competitive rowing, it can get pretty serious during training sessions. Therefore, socialising as a team is an essential way to blow off some steam together.
As you can see, rowing doesn’t just have to be for those lean, mean, rowing machines that you see competing on the television; it really does have a place in it for everybody. As long as you have a good coach and a supportive team, it can help you with all areas of health. Investigating your local rowing clubs, whether as a casual hobby or with a more serious competitive approach, is a good place to start. You’ll soon find that most rowers are keen to introduce newcomers to the sport and all the good that comes with it. You never know, it may be you on that TV screen one day!