How Can Rowing Benefit Seniors?

• Written by Kyle

This article was contributed by Sam Watson of Start Rowing

Regular exercise is one of the keys to living a long, healthy life. When it comes to senior fitness, though, not all exercises are equal. Many of the moves that younger people can get away with are too hard on the joints, muscles, and bones of elderly folks. Yet there is one form of exercise that is not only senior-friendly but also provides some serious benefits for older people.


In this article, we’ll discover 6 ways that rowing can benefit seniors.

1. Rowing is Low Impact Cardio

As we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain the health of our cardiovascular system. The problem with most forms of cardio exercise is that they are not very joint-friendly. The majority of cardio exercises are lower body focused, meaning that they involve constant pounding of the feet on the ground. This can cause stress on the ankle, knee, and hip joints.

Rowing is different. It is what we term a closed chain exercise. That means that, while you are doing the exercise, your feet never lose contact with the foot pedestals. As a result, there is very little impact stress on the lower body joints. This fact, in itself, makes rowing a far better cardiovascular exercise choice than options like using a treadmill or stair stepper.

2. Rowing Works the Full Body

As already mentioned, the majority of cardiovascular exercises focus on the muscles of the lower body. Once again, rowing stands out as being different. That’s because the rowing action involves 85% of the muscles in the body. Here’s a breakdown of the muscles that will be engaged when you perform a rowing workout.

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Biceps
  • Deltoids
  • Erector Spinae
  • Abdominals
  • Glutes
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings

Finding a low-impact exercise that allows them to work nearly all the muscles of the body is golden for seniors. That’s because, as we age, our muscles begin to get weaker and smaller. In fact, we lose between 3-8 percent of our muscle mass, function, and strength every decade after the age of 30. That rate is even greater once we reach our seventh decade.

A rowing machine workout will work your muscles together in a functional way that improves your coordination and bodily awareness. While making each individual muscle stronger, it will also improve your muscular endurance, allowing you to carry out everyday activities involving muscular strength, such as carrying groceries with far less effort.

A rowing machine workout is an effective way to wok the muscles of your core. These include the erector spinae at the bank and the abdominals at the front of your midsection. Keeping these muscles strong will help to keep the lower back pain that so many seniors suffer from at bay.

3. Rowing is Meditative

Rowing, whether on the water or in your own home, is an extremely relaxing, meditative activity. It involves a smooth, rhythmic action that allows you to get into a zone, switch off your brain, and revel in the joy of exercise.

The relaxed, rhythmic nature of rowing makes it ideal to achieve what is called a mindful state. This state, where you are calm, reflective, self-aware, and non-judgemental, is the perfect antidote to the stress-filled lives many older people are living. Mindfulness will help seniors to counter stress, have more focus, and even enjoy a better quality of sleep.

4. Rowing Improves Cardiovascular Health

As we age, it becomes increasingly important that we maintain the health of our heart and lungs. LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and resting heart are all key indicators of health for seniors. Rowing will help you get each of these markers down to a desirable level.

Rowing allows seniors to exercise at their level and then, as they get fitter and stronger, to gradually increase the intensity of the workout. As they do, the heart will adapt by pumping blood with more forceful contractions.

Many elderly folks that  have worked with are surprised at how quickly this happens. Within a month, their blood pressure and heart rate will often drop significantly.

Interested in rowing but not sure where to start? Check Start Rowing‘s ultimate guide on how to use a rowing machine.

5. Rowing Helps You Lose Weight

In tandem with the loss of muscle tissue that we experience as we age is an increase in body fat. A key reason that this occurs is that the metabolism slows down by as much as 10% every decade. As a result, more of the excess food we eat is stored as body fat. This increases the risk of a whole host of diseases and other illnesses.

Rowing is a low-impact form of exercise that will help you to burn the extra calories that would otherwise be stored as excess energy in the form of fat. Due to the fact that it involves so many muscles, rowing is a very efficient calorie burner.

The exact amount of calories you will burn on a rowing machine will depend on your age, gender, and weight. However, most people should be able to burn up to 700 calories per hour.

In order to lose body fat, you need to create a caloric deficit, where you are taking in fewer calories than you are using for energy each day. In addition to rowing to burn calories, you should also reduce your daily caloric intake by about 500 calories to achieve this.

6. Rowing Strengthens Your Bones

As we age, we naturally lose bone density. After the age of 50, bone degeneration takes place at a greater rate than regeneration. Unless we do something about it, our weak bones will make us more likely to suffer from fall injuries.

Rowing is the ideal impact-free way to strengthen your bones. To make your bones even stronger, enhance your diet with calcium-rich foods such as cheese, yoghurt, and sardines.


Rowing represents a very smart exercise choice for seniors. Its combination of low joint stress, full body activation, cardiovascular improvement, bone strengthening ability, and calorie-burning effects puts it well ahead of virtually every other form of exercise for older people. Throw in the fact that it provides a very relaxing, rhythmic way to get into a meditative state, and it’s no surprise that so many seniors are taking up the rowing habit.

Peace of Mind from LifeConnect24

If you are looking to exercise more often but are worried about falls, a personal alarm from LifeConnect24 can help. Our pendants can be worn on the wrist, around the neck, or attached to a belt. If you experience a fall, simply press the red button on your pendant and an alert will be sent to our 24/7 Response Team. They will assess the situation and inform your emergency contacts that help is required. In appropriate circumstances, they will also alert the emergency services.

To find out more about the LifeConnect24 personal alarm service, read our useful guide. If you have any questions about the service, please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can call our friendly team on 0800 999 0400, email us at, or use our contact page. Be sure to look at our price plans to choose your personal alarm plan today.

LifeConnect24 Automatic Fall Detector 24/7 monitoring
LifeConnect24 Automatic Fall Detector 24/7 monitoring
LifeConnect24 Personal Alarm supports you at home 24/7
LifeConnect24 Personal Alarm supports you at home 24/7
LifeConnect24 Personal Alarm supports you at home 24/7
LifeConnect24 Automatic Fall Detector 24/7 monitoring
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