Rowing VS Running: Which Provides the Best Workout?

Cardio exercise will not only help you get in shape but also boost your immune system, protect your heart and lungs, and improve the quality of your sleep. Of course, when it comes to cardio, running has always been king. But with the new equipment now available in gyms, many people have given up the treadmill and turned to rowing machines to get their cardio fix.

While both will have you working up a sweat, which is the best option for you? In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of rowing vs. running so you can decide which form of exercise to adopt.

A Definition of Rowing and Running

Once limited to boats and the outdoors, rowing has become increasingly popular since rowing machines became standard pieces of gym equipment. A rowing machine comprises two handles resembling oars, a sliding seat, and foot straps. It allows you to simulate the motions of water rowing indoors, which is helpful to both professional rowers and fitness lovers. Like other forms of exercise, rowing will put you in a good mood, and the low impact nature and effectiveness of the discipline have made it a favorite among people of all ages and skill levels.

Like rowing, running is also an activity you can do indoors or outdoors. Pick a time and a route, put on your running shoes, and you’re all set. Alternatively, you may prefer to use a treadmill, a machine that enables you to walk or run on its moving belt. With some studies claiming that running for 5-10 minutes a day lowers the risk of heart attacks and other common illnesses, it’s no wonder that it has remained both a beloved sport and a popular pastime.

Rowing Pros and Cons

Pros of Rowing

  • Full-Body Workout

A short rowing machine workout will yield great results because it doesn’t target one muscle group. Instead, it requires you to engage more than 80% of the muscles in your body. Watching water rowing can be deceptive since the boat obscures the lower body, and it looks as though rowers are only moving their upper body to propel the boat forward. To slide the seat on a rowing machine, you’ll need to work your quads and glutes too. It’s a great way to get a full-body workout when you don’t have the time or motivation to dedicate an entire training session to a specific muscle group.

  • It’s Low-Impact

With rowing, the focus is on performing one fluid motion from a seated position. Because the movements are smooth, controlled, and without sudden jolts, you’ll do a complete cardiovascular workout without adding pressure to your back, knees, or joints. Since the point is to find your own rhythm without worrying about your rep count, rowing is a stress-free way to ease into your workout and is also recommended to people suffering from osteoporosis.

  • It’s Good for Mental Health

Exercise impacts not just our physical health. It has many long-lasting and beneficial effects on our mental wellbeing as well. For example, a simple rowing routine will release endorphins, the happiness hormone responsible for putting you in a good mood. When your happiness levels are up, your sleeping will improve too. Studies have shown that happy people are more likely to get a good night’s sleep.

Cons of Rowing

  • Not Accessible to Everyone

If you want to pick up rowing, you’ll have to get a gym membership, join a watersports club, or buy your own indoor rowing machine. Depending on the strain you’re willing to put on your budget, none of these may be a viable option for you, and you’ll need to look into a more budget-friendly activity.

  • You Might Get Bored

Rowing is done from a single spot. You’re constantly in a sliding seat, using both your arms and legs to initiate movement. There’s not a lot of variety there, so once you’ve perfected your rowing form, the workout might not be as fun as it was when you first started out.

  • Loud and Takes Up Space

Rowing machines are a big piece of equipment and might not be for you if you live in a small room or apartment where you’ll have to walk around it to get to the front door. Additionally, they can produce a lot of noise. Even if this is not an annoyance to you, it might disrupt the lives of your neighbors or roommates.

Running Pros and Cons

Pros of Running

  • No Equipment Needed

To start running, all you have to do is run. If you’re not interested in joining a gym or buying a treadmill, take your running shoes out of the closet, and you’re ready to begin. If you stay consistent, your strength and endurance will improve, and you’ll be running longer distances in no time. You can even take your headphones and listen to some music to keep your motivation high.

  • Great Lower Body Workout

In addition to helping you lose weight, running changes your lower body for the better by building your quads, hamstrings, and calves. The lower body muscles support your back, so a good leg routine can help people who sit at a desk all day and struggle with bad posture.

  • Strengthens Bones

Weight-bearing exercises such as running keep your bones healthy and strong, which work to prevent bone loss later in life. Our bones naturally start to weaken and lose their density as we grow old. So when you run regularly, you’re also investing in your old age and preserving your bone health.

Cons of Running

  • No Upper Body Movement

While an excellent leg burner, running does little to increase your upper body strength. Most professional runners have a separate strength training routine to target their chest, arms, and back. If you want to build an exercise program for your entire physique, it’s probably best to combine running with other forms of exercise so that your whole body will become strong and healthy.

  • Strains the Joints

Since it’s easy to start running, many people believe there’s no technique. However, running with improper form opens you up to serious injuries. Unless you start out slow and listen to your body, the high impact your knees and ankles suffer will cut short your running journey before you’ve even had the chance to begin. Instead, try talking to a personal trainer or a proficient runner to get some advice on adopting a proper running form.

  • People Overdo It

The benefits of regular exercise are plentiful, but excessive workouts can result in adverse effects. For example, obsession is never good, and excessive running may damage your heart tissue and arteries. So don’t push yourself too hard, and remember that rest days are just as crucial for your health as working out.

To Sum Up the Pros and Cons

Since we’ve gone over the pros and cons of rowing vs. running, we’ve created this infographic to provide a clear and concise summary.

is rowing as good as running | is running or rowing better for fat loss | is running or rowing better cardio

How to Decide Between Rowing and Running

Whether rowing or running is the right kind of cardio depends on your personal fitness goals, current physical ability, and preferred way of life. However, we can give you a few tips to help you make up your mind.

 You might take to rowing if:

  • You’re looking for an effective all-in-one way to tone your entire body.
  • You want a stress-free workout without jumping or excessive strain.
  • You don’t want to worry about performing complicated moves and want to focus on your form and go at your own pace.

Running could be just the thing for you if:

  • You enjoy equipment-free workouts.
  • You want to maximize your lower body strength.
  • You want to improve your overall health by building bone mass and density.

Final Thoughts on Rowing vs. Running

Ultimately, the type of cardio exercise you add to your workout regime will have to align with your health objectives and other established routines. So first, think about what you want to accomplish and what muscle groups need the most work. Our list of pros and cons of rowing vs. running should help you with that. Then, look at your long-term goals and how well rowing or running will help you achieve them.

If you think running is the best choice for you, check out our article on the best breathing techniques so that you can maximize your results.

rowing vs running | rowing vs running calories | rowing vs running distance