Performing sustained exercise that increases your heart rate and breath volume improves your cardiovascular fitness. Rowing engages every major muscle group of your body including your heart and lungs. That requires your heart to pump more blood to your working muscle tissue to deliver energy and nutrients to your cells while buffering away waste byproducts, including carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
The human body is incredibly efficient, and doesn’t like to exert itself, so when it’s forced to work harder than it’s used to, it makes physiologic adjustments so future exertion feels easier. When your heart pumps and you breathe harder during rowing, your body doesn’t like it, and adapts and changes so that the next time you do the same level of work, it feels a little easier. This improves your cardiovascular fitness.
Rowing works your entire body. During the drive phase you’re engaging the major muscle groups of your legs first, then your core, and finally your upper body and back. This repeated exertion helps improve muscular endurance across muscle groups.
Rowing is an excellent form of exercise, but it’s not without risks. Poor form can result in injury, particularly to the lower back during the drive phase of the exercise. If you’ve never used a rowing machine before, ask for tips from a trainer to ensure you’re using it properly. And, as with any form of exercise, start slow and work your way up.