Is Rowing A Good Substitute For Running

As a passionate runner, I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of finding alternative exercises that can provide a similar level of cardiovascular and full-body workout. Rowing has been a topic of interest for many fitness enthusiasts, and it poses the question: Can rowing be a good substitute for running? Let’s dive deep into the comparison and see what each exercise has to offer.

Benefits of Running

Running is renowned for its ability to improve cardiovascular health, enhance endurance, and burn significant calories. It’s a weight-bearing exercise that helps in strengthening bones and muscles. Additionally, many runners relish the mental benefits, such as stress relief and a sense of accomplishment after completing a challenging run.

Benefits of Rowing

On the other hand, rowing is a low-impact, full-body workout that engages various muscle groups simultaneously. It provides an excellent cardiovascular workout while being gentle on the joints. Rowing also focuses on the upper body, lower body, and core, making it a comprehensive strength and endurance training exercise.

Comparison of Cardiovascular Impact

When comparing the cardiovascular benefits, both running and rowing are highly effective in improving heart health. Running involves continuous, rhythmic movements that elevate the heart rate, while rowing demands a powerful, synchronized motion that also delivers an intense cardiovascular workout. Both exercises effectively improve endurance and overall physical conditioning.

Impact on Muscles and Joints

One of the significant differences between running and rowing lies in their impact on muscles and joints. Running is a high-impact exercise that can lead to wear and tear on the joints, especially if proper form and recovery are not maintained. Conversely, rowing is a low-impact exercise that reduces the risk of joint injuries and allows individuals with joint issues to engage in a challenging workout without the constant pounding on the ground.

Personal Experience

After incorporating rowing into my training regimen, I noticed a remarkable improvement in my overall strength and endurance. The low-impact nature of rowing provided a refreshing break for my joints while still delivering an intense workout. Moreover, the feeling of gliding through the water during rowing sessions offered a sense of tranquility that I rarely experienced while running.


In conclusion, while running and rowing offer distinct benefits, rowing can indeed serve as a valuable substitute for running. Its low-impact nature, full-body engagement, and cardiovascular benefits make it a compelling alternative, especially for individuals seeking a break from the repetitive impact of running. Ultimately, both exercises have their own merits, and incorporating a mix of running and rowing into a fitness routine can offer a well-rounded approach to achieving overall health and fitness goals.