The Best Low-Impact Workout
I’m often asked what the best workout options are for people who need low-impact exercise such as those with chronic conditions, older adults, or those recovering from injury or surgery. While there are a few great options, I consistently hear positive feedback about one exercise in particular, and it’s a quickly-growing exercise trend in fitness gyms across North America. But most people are a bit surprised when I tell them what it is:
Yes, the same indoor rowing exercise your grandfather may have touted – or still does. So why is this old standby making a comeback? And why is it so great, other than low-impact?
Benefits of Indoor Rowing
Rowing truly is a unique sport, as it has virtually no impact on the joints. Indoor rowing machines are especially effective for older adults, because when done properly, it places very little to no strain on the back or joints. Rowing requires surprisingly equal amounts of effort from both the upper body and lower body. It also demands (and therefore promotes) good cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance to maintain your stride, rep after rep.
So how effective is it, exactly?
Researchers at Harvard University report that a 185-pound man can burn roughly 377 calories by rowing vigorously for only 30 minutes. Clearly, using a rowing machine can help to build and tone your muscles, strengthen your cardiovascular function and greatly increase stamina. Not bad for a low-impact “alternative” workout.
Photo courtesy Ben Bradshaw / flickr.com