There are many ways for you to obtain the 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity that the CDC recommends adults get each week, between the various pieces of equipment in the cardio area of your gym and the sweat-inducing studio fitness sessions that are currently offered. And while any vigorous aerobic exercise can achieve improve your mood and strengthen your heart , some have advantages over others. Lacking space at home but wanting to exercise? Pull out a jump rope. Do you like being outside and occasionally wish to work out with your dog? Come to the #hotgirlwalk with a little extra zip.
However, rowing and running are two of the first cardiac exercises. Running and rowing have different effects on the body, target different muscle areas, and have different injury risks, even though both will help you meet your weekly cardio requirements. Here, experts discuss the advantages of running versus rowing as well as how to choose the cardio activity that is right for you.
ADVANTAGES OF RUNNING For many people, running is their preferred aerobic activity, and for good reason. April Gatlin , an ACE-certified personal trainer and coach at STRIDE Fitness , says that running is a fantastic cardiovascular workout with a big calorie burn. With regular practice, this kind of exercise can cut cholesterol and resting heart rate while also expanding lung capacity. Even better: You don’t have to run nonstop for hours on end to reap the rewards of your training. Running for just five to ten minutes per day, at speeds of less than six miles per hour (i.e., a 12-minute mile or slower), has been linked to significantly lower chances of cardiovascular disease and death from all causes, according to study A study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
If those arguments aren’t persuading you to choose running as your preferred cardio, here are some more.
WORKS THE CORE AND LOWER-BODY MUSCLES Running strengthens your lower body, which also happens to contain your greatest muscular groups, such as your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings, whether you’re doing hill repeats or a low-intensity, steady-state jog. And although though you might not be aware of it, Gatlin says that while you run, your core is working as well. That’s because, as Shape previously noted, your core aids in stabilizing your body while you’re jogging. Keep in mind that running involves taking consecutive steps from one foot to the other, which calls for a lot of balance. Translation: You push your core harder than you might think.
CONVENIENCE IS PROVIDED a key advantage of running? It’s a practical cardio option that doesn’t call for pricey, large-scale equipment. You can quickly increase your heart rate by tying your shoes and going outside. Running doesn’t require any special equipment, so it can also be a less expensive cardio option (though you’ll still need to replace your running shoes as you rack up the miles; experts advise getting a new pair every 300 to 600 miles). Due to the simplicity of the cardio option, you may find it easier to continue your running routine despite work travel, holidays, or other challenges that could otherwise prevent you from working out.
Nearly all big-box gyms, as well as even the most modest hotel gyms, have treadmills available, so you can still exercise even if you don’t live in a place where you can comfortably run outside. Running is quite accessible and may be readily incorporated into your cardio program.
IMPROVES BONES Running is a high-impact exercise because your feet leave and then re-touch the earth. While that motion can impose strain on your joints, jogging is a high-impact activity, so the repeated impact actually strengthens your bones. As previously stated by Janet Hamilton, C.S.C.S. , an exercise physiologist with Running Strong in Atlanta, running stresses your bones and cartilage, which causes them to rebound stronger. As a result, your bones become more dense over time and are less likely to fracture. Research also supports this: According to a study in the Medicine andamp; Science in Sports andamp; Exercise journal, runners have a lower risk of developing knee osteoarthritis, sometimes referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis, than walkers do.
ADVANTAGES OF ROWING Due to rowing machines, which were once primarily utilized by sportsmen, rowing is now a common exercise in many gyms, fitness centers, and homes. In fact, there have been CDC recommends 0 more individuals indoor rowing since 2014. Here’s why rowing is regarded as a potent cardiac exercise.
SAVES TIME AND HAS MINIMAL IMPACT According to Josh Honore, a NASM certified personal trainer and coach at CDC recommends 1, “the greatest benefit of rowing is the ability to develop your cardiovascular system without placing heaps of stress on our joints.” Rowing is a weightless, seated action, so it doesn’t put as much strain on the joints, he continues. Rowing is great for anyone with joint issues or who is healing from an accident because of its low-impact nature. Naturally, you should always get your doctor’s approval before beginning a new fitness regimen, particularly if you’re recovering from an injury.
PROVIDES A COMPLETE BODY WORKOUT Don’t be fooled by the low-impact nature of rowing; you’re still getting a good workout. According to Honore, rowing “hits almost every muscle in the body.” CDC recommends 2 by the English Institute of Sport discovered that rowing employs 86 percent of your muscles as an example.
In addition to improving cardiovascular fitness, Honore explains that the resistance of the damper and the power output required by the rower “help condition practically every muscle in the body.” Reminder: The damper is the lever that controls airflow and lets you adjust resistance. It is located on the side of the rowing wheel. Therefore, rowing is preferable than jogging if your goal is to use as many muscle groups as possible throughout your aerobic session. This is especially true with the increased resistance provided by the damper.
ADVANCES POSTURE Let’s take a moment to break down rowing: According to ACSM-certified personal trainer CDC recommends 3, 60 percent of rowing is done with the legs, 30 percent with the core, and 10 percent with the arms. Additionally, there is a lot of core activation, so you should learn how to dynamically engage your abs. You should also feel a burn throughout your core, he continues. Additionally, rowing can strengthen the muscles in the posterior chain, which can counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting, according to Honore.
Remember that any set of muscles on your back constitute the posterior chain (think hamstrings, glutes, lower back, shoulders, and core). You’re more likely to slouch if your posterior chain is weak because your back muscles won’t be able to draw your shoulder blades back and support you as you sit up straight. Conversely, a strong posterior chain can mitigate the negative consequences of “tech neck,” making rowing one of the finest activities for posture correction.
HOW TO SELECT BETWEEN ROWING AND RUNNING The good news is that there is no right or wrong decision because both running and rowing are efficient, trainer-recommended strategies to increase heart rate. Instead, consider which activity will suit your needs and lifestyle the most—rowing or jogging.
Honore recommends, “First, think about the modality you can employ with the best comfort and safety. “Depending on your choice, aches and pains may get worse.” For instance, someone with low back discomfort should avoid rowing, while someone with chronic foot or knee pain should avoid running. Before beginning any new exercise program, always check with your doctor to be sure you are healthy enough to practice cardio.
Consider whether access is a problem as well. You most certainly have access to both treadmills and rowers if you are a member of a big-box gym with a dedicated cardio area (although quality rowers are still far less common in gyms than treadmills, notes Honore). Running outside, on the other hand, can be your chosen cardio if you want to exercise at home and don’t have space for a cardio equipment.
Finally, pick the cardio exercise that you prefer most. You can devote yourself to running for cardio if you enjoy the feeling of pounding the pavement at dawn. Don’t hesitate to include a full-body rowing session in your schedule if you find yourself looking forward to it. A workout you enjoy is one you’ll probably persist with since consistency is important, adds Honore.
Still hesitating in the abstract? Here are some important distinctions between running and rowing to aid with your decision.
ROWING VS. RUNNING: HEALTH RESTORATION It should come as no surprise that rowing is a joint-friendly cardio option for anyone healing from an injury due to its low-impact focus. Examining any prior orthopedic problems that may have resulted in pain or impingement is a wonderful approach to determine whether running or rowing is the best fit, according to Gatlin. For instance, rowing would be a fantastic exercise choice for someone who has undergone a hip replacement. Anyone with knee pain may find rowing appealing as a means to increase strength and endurance without further taxing the painful joint (just get the go-ahead from your doctor first).
CALORIES BURNED BY ROWING VS. RUNNING Whether rowing or jogging burns more calories is still up for debate. On the one hand, rowing works out the entire body and uses more muscle groups than jogging does. Furthermore, according to Honore, “the damper and resistance of the rower exert additional strain on the cardiovascular system, which can result in a more dramatic metabolic response in a shorter period of time.” Rowing’s low impact nature also allows for longer training sessions with less risk of injury. Gatlin adds that since running is a weight-bearing exercise, it can burn more calories than rowing.
Running and moderate-intensity rowing both burn around the same number of calories in an hour, according to the CDC recommends 4. In light of this, feel free to ignore calories while choosing between running and rowing; after all, finding movement that you enjoy is more important than worrying excessively about calorie burn.
BALANCE AND STABILITY OF ROWING AND RUNNING When it comes to organizing your workouts, balance is frequently overlooked, but it’s essential to achieve CDC recommends 5 (especially as you age). The fact that rowing is done while seated eliminates the need for balance, and because it is a bilateral action, both sides of your body move in unison. However, as you run, you essentially bounce from one foot to the other while your limbs move in different directions. The outcome? To stay upright and prevent falling, you require a strong sense of balance. Therefore, give jogging the upper hand over rowing if improving your balance and stability is an aim of your training.
For beginners, ROWING VS. RUNNING Have you just begun your fitness journey? Running may not be superior to rowing entirely. For cardio, “I would recommend rowing for many novices,” adds Honore. Rowing is a little bit simpler to appreciate straight away than running is because of the lower impact and flexible resistance.
Rowing offers a safer, pain-free form of training because many beginners can have orthopedic problems or could be more vulnerable to injuries when just starting out. Rowing is the ideal alternative, according to Gatlin, if a beginner has orthopedic problems and cannot walk. “It utilizes more muscle groups than jogging yet is less taxing on the joints and non-weight bearing.” TL;DR: Rowing might be a better exercise for beginners than running.
SO, ROWING OR RUNNING, WHICH IS BETTER? Rowing will be a safer cardio choice than running if you’re recovering from an injury or have joint pain. It also provides a full-body workout by working most of your key muscle groups. But if comfort and the opportunity to work out outside are vital to you, put on your running shoes. Gatlin recommends that you should only move in a way that you enjoy. “Assuming no orthopedic problems exist, choosing between rowing and running depends in part on which one the person finds more enjoyable. You frequently engage in your favorite pastimes!”