Rowing vs Running – Which One To Choose And Why?

Are you interested in adding cardio exercise to your workout routine? 

Not sure!!! Which cardio option is the right one for you when it comes to rowing vs running? 

No need to worry because today we’ll discuss everything you need to know about these two types of cardio exercises, including their advantages and which one is perfect for you.


Rowing vs Running for Cardio

Rowing and running are very strong forms of cardio workout and can keep the heart pumping for a few minutes, but they’re quite different from what they offer.

According to a report regarding rowing vs running, by rowing, you can burn 158 calories in 30 minutes with an average of 40 strokes per minute with 3-4 knots, and by running, you can burn 181 calories in 30 minutes with an average speed of 5mph.

Many people confuse between rowing vs running for cardio – which one is best?

So, in this section, we’ll clear this confusion and discuss rowing vs running for cardio – which one is the best?

Let’s start the discussion with the basic definitions of rowing and running.

So, Running is an act of rapidly shifting the foot, which typically leaves the ground concurrently with both feet.

On the other hand, rowing can be performed either on a rowing machine or on a rowing boat, where you’ll be in control of the paddles to drive them across the water to propel the boat.

In fact, both running and rowing are incredible cardio workouts.

Both have their own advantages when it comes to one’s health.

However, something unique to many rowing machines is that you have a choice for extra resistance, which ensures that you can exercise to increase your  VO2 max and work against your target heart rate.

Although fancy treadmills and resistance training do that, it’s not something you’re going to find on your ordinary treadmill.

But you’re going to find the functionality on a lot of rowing machines.


Benefits of Rowing vs Running

Let’s throw some light on the benefits of rowing vs running.

However, both approaches offer an excellent cardio workout with all the rewards you can expect from a comprehensive workout. 

The best advantage is that it can be adapted to your fitness level so that newcomers and experts can get a workout that suits them.

Both workouts are quick enough to understand for beginners and encourage you to increase the strength and time spent exercise as you grow so that it can still be customized to your ability level and physical goals.

If you’re part of a gym or workout club, you’ll find both the treadmills and the rowing machines readily available.

So, it is up to you which cardio workout you select for your workout routine.


In what aspects rowing has an upper hand in rowing vs running?

Rowing vs Running
A group of people rowing in the river


1.   Strengthens the upper body and lower body both

Trainers often say rowing offers better fitness for the upper body as well as the lower body.

According to the trainers, while rowing, the shoulders, the hands, and back all are engaged to bring the handle back to the rower towards your ribcage

Unlike other common machine-based workouts, one rowing stroke is targeted at 9 different muscle groups.

These 9 muscle groups comprise 86 percent of the muscles of the body, making muscle gain fantastic for the rowing machine.

The strength of a rowing stroke is that it stimulates the upper body, the lower body, and the core muscles at once.


2.  An excellent exercise for your back

In fact, Rowing will feel nice for people seated on the screen during the day.

Trainers explain that the momentum of rowing drives the back in the backward position and starts to unravel some of the harm they are doing all day long.

This ensures that rowing will also improve your position while you are off the computer.


3.   Causes Lower Impact

Many trainers and fitness coaches claim one significant advantage of rowing is that the effect is smaller than running.

For people with joint pains, especially in the hips and knees, this could help make it harder to run. 

It is an acceptable form of cardio workout for people who experience joint pain issues because this exercise is easier for joints.

Also, rowing is also an outstanding exercise for someone who has just recovered from an injury.


4.   Safer than running

Most of the trainers suggest rowing is much better than running for those who have low vision.

Unlike running, while rowing you just need to be at a place and exercise on the machine, so it’s quite a better and safer option than running for those people who have a lower vision.

You can relax in the machine with rowing, find your groove, and let your body take over.

But it will be impossible to do so when you’re riding on a treadmill.


5.   Beneficial for your heart

Fitness coaches often say that this is also another advantage that both rowing and running have in common since both are cardio-based exercises.

The heart is a muscle, and raising the heart rhythm tends to improve it.

For this cause, cardiologists prescribe doing a cardio workout at least 30 minutes a day.


In what aspects running has an upper hand in rowing vs running?

Rowing vs Running
A group of girls is running


1.   Good for the heart health

Running helps to maintain the health of your heart.

For the cardiovascular system exercise, running is an ideal form of exercise.

It uses all fatty acids and carbohydrates in energy for high aerobic exercise.

An average runner usually has a slow pulse rate and heavy oxygen intake, which keeps your heart safe and healthy.


2.   No equipment is required

Let’s just dive into the term rowing machine vs running.

While rowing requires a rowing machine, running does not require any equipment.

This makes it cheaper and a workout that can be completed almost everywhere.

Although this is likely to be the case for many, it is still essential to recognize that not everyone lives somewhere that is safe to run outside.

This is where gyms and studios (only with proper  COVID-19 measures, of course) can help offer a healthy room, whatever sort of exercise someone prefers.


3.   Boosts up your core strength

Running gives the abdominal muscles more exercise.

Many fitness freaks say that running allows the core to be engaged, it also helps to strengthen those muscles.

When you engage the core, you potentially form a good posture, so running can benefit to attain a perfect posture, too.


4.   Offers a good lower body workout

Many trainers and fitness coaches claim that running is mainly a lower body exercise, explicitly targeting quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, and calf muscles.

Because of this, it is normal for runners to have tight hips and hamstrings, making stretching and recovery essential.


5.   Makes your bones stronger

This is a bonus of running that the trainers mostly claim, running helps to make your bones stronger.

The people who are involved in running never complain about bone pain.

Running helps you to build more bone density because you’re at your foot and working against gravity.


Rowing vs Running – Which one is the best?

Rowing vs Running
A running girl


It is clear that both rowing and running are of great value, but it is always difficult to choose between rowing vs running.

The fact is, they’re both productive workouts.

So, now you should opt between rowing vs running by looking at what your priorities actually are?

So, we’ll talk about rowing vs running – which one is the best for you?

Let’s give a deep dive and see which cardio workout is good according to your priorities.


1.   Muscles engagement

When you run, you mostly use muscles in your lower body: quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and calves.

Since your abs and biceps strengthen your muscles, you can also reinforce them to a degree.

With rowing, though, you can exercise more muscles in both the upper and lower body.

You will also improve your abs (as a prime mover) and back muscles in the core of your body.

Plus, you will grow arm strength in your deltoids and biceps.

Running is a great form of fitness, but it actually just includes lower body muscles such as the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Rowing, however, targets both the upper and lower body muscles.

Not only does it strengthen your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, but it also strengthens your abs, biceps, and back.

You can’t top running if you’re looking for the perfect lower body aerobic exercise.

But for a cardio exercise that works more on the body, rowing is obviously better.


2.   Calories Burnt

In addition, running can be more powerful than rowing, because you’ll burn more calories by running instead of rowing.

The amount of calories burned depends on the degree of pressure (and many other factors, including your size).

These are the ranges; According to a report regarding rowing vs running, by rowing, you can burn 158 calories in 30 minutes with an average of 40 strokes per minute with 3-4 knots, And by running, you can burn 181 calories in 30 minutes with an average speed of 5mph.

However, this is a little confusing, as in most fitness stuff, it depends on your goals.

If you want to lose weight, the trick is to burn as many calories as possible.

If you’re trying to improve your stamina, get a full-body workout, or take care of your body, then rowing has a lot of advantages overrunning.

Overall, it’s easier to live on calories consumed alone every hour.

But it all depends on the strength and duration of the exercise.

Plus, you may be able to drive yourself further on one exercise or another, so there’s a possibility that rowing—rather than running—may be the right workout for you in terms of calorie burning.

Just like running outside consumes more calories than running on a treadmill, so you burn more calories rowing on the water than rowing on a machine.

In reality, you’re going to burn more calories rowing aggressively on water compared to a 9-minute mile running.

But getting access to scull and a comfortable place to row can be challenging, so for most of us, rowing involves using a machine.

Rowing machines also improve metabolism for a few hours after a workout, so you could feel more calorie burns.

In comparison, it’s great for total weight reduction and you’re going to develop more muscle than an easier aerobic exercise like running.


3.   Impact of the exercise

Running is a  high-impact exercise, which means it’s really hard on the knees.

Many runners suffer from all types of discomfort – knee pain, back pain, foot pain, and more.

By comparison, rowing is low-impact and not weight-bearing, meaning you’ll feel less tension on the joints.

If you’re someone who has knee problems or arthritis, rowing might be the perfect solution to running for you.

Know you’re going to be rowing when you’re sitting, so you’re not fighting against gravity like you do when you’re running.

Often bear in mind that people who heal from injuries or surgery commonly use rowing machines to build stamina, because you know they need to have a simpler effect on the knees compared to running.

Note, though, that it is important to maintain a healthy shape to prevent joint pain.

When you row, make sure you push your whole foot off, even your heels.

If you back off in this way—instead of your toes, you’re going to put less weight on your feet.


4.  Cost Efficiency

Running gets the prize for this category and if you run outdoors, it doesn’t cost you much money to run.

But if you choose a treadmill and a gym, rowing will be at an equal rate.

However, that rowing is a perfect choice all year round while running still gets more expensive in the winter when it can be too cold and risky to race outdoors.

Plus, you can also use a rowing machine (or a treadmill to be fair) during the hot summer months.

Even if you were to buy your own rowing machine, it would be a comparable expense to a treadmill – may be a bit less so.

But for a decent rowing machine, we’re talking under $1,000.

You’d actually have to pay a bit of money on a comparable treadmill.


5.   Cardio workout

In fact, both running and rowing are wonderful cardio workouts.

You should apply to row for all the cardio advantages you equate with running.

Something that is special to many rowing machines, however, is that you have a choice for extra resistance, which ensures that you can exercise to increase your VO2 max and work against your target heart rate.

Although fancy treadmills and resistance training do that, it’s not something you’re going to find on your ordinary treadmill.

But you’re going to find the functionality on a lot of rowing machines.


6.  Convenience

If you’re an outdoor runner, you know how much conditions and traffic will impair your ability to run efficiently.

Yet odds are you’d rather take the gamble than living with the treadmill monotony.

Rowing is a perfect sport because it can be performed indoors.

And what’s better is that rowing machines need even less maintenance than most fitness machines.

And they’re all pretty inexpensive, so it’s not too hard to get one.


General Tips By Expert

Often begin your exercise with 5 to 10 minutes or a bit longer warm-up to ready your muscles and cardiovascular system for work ahead.

Often complete your exercise with a cool down lasting at least 5 to 10 minutes to recover your body to its pre-workout shape.

Start gently with lower resistance and steadily increase the speed until you are relaxed with the action.

Stay fit, with your back straight and your shoulders back to avoid undue tension on your back.

Avoid running if you feel too lazy to keep a healthy shape.


Final Verdict

Both of these are fantastic ways to kick off your training routine, and I think I’d do you a disservice if I recommended that you do one thing over the other.

If you do what you like the most, you’re going to train more regularly and get better results in the long run.

When you pick an exercise that you don’t enjoy, whether it burns more calories or works a muscle, you prefer to drop out faster. 

As in other workouts, they compliment each other well.

This was the whole discussion about choosing the best cardio exercise for you among rowing vs running.

So, if you’re a runner, give your knees a break once in a while and do some rowing.

Even if you’re a rower, give yourself a break and do some running.




Which one is rowing vs running better cardio?


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