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Keeping fit is important at all stages of life but as we get older our bodies begin to naturally weaken, staying physically fit is even more important.
While many seniors are reluctant to, or cannot get to the gym, there are many options for exercise equipment at home making it much easier to live a healthy lifestyle. A rowing machine provides you with an excellent workout and is easy to use.
Rowing Machines Comparison Chart
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
Teeter Power10 Rower with Elliptical Motion
Mr Captain Water Rowing Machine
NordicTrack RW 900 Rower
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Rowing Machine
Schwinn Crewmaster 100660 Rower
Levels of Resistance
Level of water can be altered to adjust level of resistance
96" (L) x 24" (W)
62.75" (L) x 37.5" (W)
82" (L) x 22" (W)
86.5" (L) x 22" (W)
52.2" (L) x 28.7" (W)
93.1" (L) x 21.1" (W)
Speed, distance, pace, calories burned, watts
Distance, time, calories, strokes per minute, pulse
Distance, calories, time, strokes per minute, pulse, strokes
Distance, calories, time, average watts, strokes
Time, count, calories, total count, scan
Time, distance, count, stroke, calories, recovery, pulse
Benefits of a Rowing Machine for Seniors
Rowing machines offer a lot of benefits to people of all ages but for older adults, they can be specifically advantageous. If you are looking for an easy to maintain workout routine that won’t put your body under too much pressure then this is a viable option. The pros of remaining physically active as we get older are many, and several studies have demonstrated this to be fact. For example, regular exercise can improve mobility as well as having mental health benefits.
Using a rowing machine is a low impact workout which, while incredibly beneficial, doesn’t put what may already be a fragile body under immense pressure. In later life, the joints and muscles may not be as strong as they were when we were younger and as a result, high impact exercise could much more easily cause an injury.
With this type of low impact workout, you are still reaping all the major benefits of physical activity with a reduced risk of strain or injury.
In addition to being low impact, the rowing machine is a great option for people who are looking to achieve a full body workout. Depending on how vigorously you row, you will also be achieving varying levels of cardio workout which is essential for a healthy heart and excellent circulation.
If you want to avoid having to install a variety of equipment to meet your body’s varying workout needs, then a rowing machine might be right for you.
There are many different types of workout and these are each important for maintaining good overall health. A rowing machine has a variety of benefits but one of the most notable are the different types of exercise it can provide. There is evidence to suggest that using a rowing machine can improve musculoskeletal disorders such as scoliosis. This is also beneficial in maintaining excellent posture and therefore, reducing back pain.
In addition to this, rowing provides you with both an aerobic and resistance workout so, as we mentioned earlier, you are achieving a cardiovascular workout as well as one that tones and strengthens the muscles.
It can be easy for some people to gain weight as they get older and their metabolism changes. For this reason, it is essential that we stay on top of our weight in order to remain healthy in other areas. For example, it is known that obesity has a negative impact on heart health and increases the risk of conditions such as diabetes.
It stands to reason then, that many older adults are looking for realistic ways of managing their weight without putting a huge physical strain on their bodies. A rowing machine is a terrific way to burn calories and, provided that you maintain a healthy diet, could serve as a weight loss aid.
A lot of seniors may find the technicalities of complex exercise machines to be too much to understand. However, a rowing machine is incredibly easy to use and will benefit even those who are very new to this type of equipment.
If you are concerned that beginning a workout routine will take up a lot of your time then rowing might be a good option for you. Using a rowing machine doesn’t require a significant amount of time and results can be achieved in as little as 15 mins per session.
For some people, doing 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 minutes in the evening is a great way to split their workouts without impacting on the rest of their day. This is especially beneficial if you have a lot of other commitments.
What Muscles Does a Rowing Machine Work?
Using a rowing machine gives you the ability to work more than 85% of your muscles which is excellent news for people looking to get a full body workout. But it is important to break it down and look at the areas you are most likely to benefit in.
More than 60% of your exertion when using a rowing machine comes from the legs, so if you are looking to strengthen and tone the leg muscles, this is an excellent way to achieve that. Furthermore, your arms will be doing 20% of the work as well as your shoulders.
A core workout is essential and many people will perform pushing and pulling exercises such as sit ups and push ups. However, both the lower back and abdominal muscles will be given an intense workout as you row. In addition to this, the backward motion of the workout will also help to tone the bottom.
How to Use a Rowing Machine Safely?
There is nothing more important than working out safely, if you do not do this, there is a significant risk that you will cause an injury. For this reason, you should always observe the following safety rules when using this type of equipment.
- You should always be sure to wear the right clothing when using a rowing machine. Loose fitting garments could get easily tangled in the machine and this could cause an injury as well as destroying your clothing.
- For anyone who struggles with delicate skin that may blister easily, holding onto the handle could cause unnecessary friction so wearing workout gloves is good practice.
- When you first start using the machine, it can be tempting to ramp up the resistance, but this won’t necessarily give you the best results, unless you are already physically able to do this. Give your body a chance to warm up and begin on one of the lower settings, gradually building up resistance.
- Ensure that the feet are correctly strapped onto the foot pads. It isn’t necessary to do the straps overly tight but the feet should not slide around as you move.
- It is essential to discuss your new exercise routine with your doctor. Not all types of exercise are suitable for everyone and your physician will be able to give you the most appropriate advice for your situation.
- Always follow the correct form; a good way to remember this movement sequence is ‘legs, arms, arms, legs.’
- It is important to never overdo it when you are working out. In fact, some may say that less is more. If you have spoken to your doctor, he or she will have given you the most suitable advice and this will be tailored to your personal needs. However, as a general rule, aerobic workouts should last for around 20 minutes whereas anaerobic workouts can continue for up to 45 minutes. If you ever feel as though your body cannot handle anymore, take a break and allow yourself to recover.
Types of Indoor Rowers
Each of us is different and as such, we will all prefer or require different things when it comes to working out. The good news is that rowing machines are not confined to one type and depending on what you need, you certainly have options in terms of resistance.
For anyone who is looking for a rowing machine that will work alongside their own abilities, an air rower could be the right choice. This type of rowing machine uses a fan which features wide blades; as these blades spin faster, the resistance becomes more intense.
This essentially means that there is no limit on how much resistance you will meet, provided that you can row quickly enough to produce this. With a more natural feel to the workout, you won’t feel as though you are having to work outside of your abilities.
Magnetic rowers feature quite a sophisticated form of resistance. There are magnets located near the flywheel and these have the ability to move closer or further away, according to the machine settings which are typically altered electronically.
As the magnets move further away from the flywheel, resistance is decreased and as they move closer, more resistance is produced. These machines are quiet and smooth which make them ideal for home use. What’s more, there are usually set levels of resistance so are good for people who want a more specific workout.
A water resistance rower could, as many would argue, be the most realistic form of rowing since the paddles create resistance as they move through the water. This mimics the act of rowing perfectly and is a great choice for people who need more control over the resistance level. In a similar way to air resistance, these rowing machines’ resistance will change according to how fast or slow you move.
The user has the option to add more or less water to the tank which will increase and decrease the resistance respectively.
Many people struggle to find the space in their home to use a rowing machine but hydraulic machines tend to be much smaller as well as being a lot more budget-friendly.
In this case, the resistance is controlled by the movement of a piston against either air or hydraulic fluid, depending on the model. The resistance is adjusted by altering the stroke rate of the piston which is incredibly easy to do. For this reason, many seniors who are unfamiliar with using exercise equipment may find this version a lot simpler.
Indoor Rower Buyer’s Guide
Before you settle on any particular model of rowing machine, there are several things that you should consider. This will enable you to choose a rower that will perfectly meet your needs.
We have already discussed the various types of resistance that your rower might have and this is an important consideration. If you want to have more control over the resistance without having to set it manually then a water or air rowing machine might be a better option. This will also allow you to play around with different speeds and resistance giving you more freedom as you exercise.
However, if you prefer the idea of working with a pre-set resistance level then a hydraulic or magnetic rowing machine may be more suitable for you.
Most modern rowing machines come with some sort of display, however what details appear on this display will vary depending on the model you choose. For example, some of the more sophisticated machines will measure things like calories burned, heart rate, distance traveled, speed and much more.
Alternatively, if you are looking for something incredibly simple, there are those that simply display the current settings. Which you choose will depend largely on what you are looking to achieve. If you want to keep track of your workouts then a more detailed display is essential.
In addition to this, you should be looking for a screen that is easy to see. Many will come with a backlit display that offers clearer viewing and if your eyesight is not what it used to be then larger text is a must.
Unless you have a dedicated space for your rowing machine, it is likely that you will need to store it away between uses. For this reason, it can be useful to look for a product that folds in half for easier storage. But even so, it is important to check the folded dimensions to ensure that the machine will fit into the cupboard under the stairs or behind the couch.
You should consider the weight of the machine, especially if you will need to take it out of storage every time you use it. Heavier pieces of equipment are best left in place to avoid straining your back or causing another injury when trying to set it up.
One of the things that attracts many people to using a rowing machine is that these pieces of equipment allow you to remain seated as you exercise. However, since you will be spending a lot of time in the seat, it is essential that it is comfortable.
The seat should ideally be padded for maximum comfort and you should look for seat covers that are breathable and soft on the skin. It is important that the seat can be easily cleaned as it is likely that you will perspire while working out.
In modern times, there aren’t many pieces of equipment that lack smart technology and the rowing machine is one such example. Depending on what you want to achieve, you may wish to download your workout data to store on a health app or on another device.
Some rowing machines benefit from a USB port which is a great way of transferring data. Alternatively, if you wish to upload your data to your smartphone or tablet, Bluetooth capabilities are a must.
The weight capacity of a rowing machine will tell you how heavy a user can be before the machine will be put under strain. It is crucial that you select a rower that is in line with your weight. While this can be a confronting issue for some people, omitting to pay attention to it could result in an injury.
For the most part, rowing machines are sturdy and well-made pieces of equipment but as with any machine, there is always a chance that something could go wrong. For this reason, it is vital that your equipment comes with a generous warranty so that you can feel confident you are covered in the event that something goes wrong.
Best Indoor Rowers for Seniors
When you begin your search for a new rowing machine, you will quickly notice that there are a lot of options out there. This can quickly become overwhelming but our guide to the best indoor rowing machines for seniors will help you to discover some of the most superior products on the market.
1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
This is a slim line rowing machine that is ideal for anyone looking for a space-saving device. But this smaller size certainly doesn’t mean that its features are lacking. Far from it; this machine comes with some excellent connectivity options including a USB drive for storing data. It also features a wireless heart rate monitor and the ability to connect with a wide range of health and fitness apps.
There are ten levels of resistance as well as a selection of pre-set workouts and games to make your workout more enjoyable. The clear screen provides real-time data on calories, speed, distance, and much more. The PM5 monitor boasts a smartphone holder and the rower also benefits from a 14″ seat, ergonomic handles, and adjustable foot pedals.
- Resistance type: Air
- Levels of resistance: 10
- Dimensions: 96″ (L) x 24″ (W)
- Weight capacity: 500 lbs
- Product weight: 57 lbs
2. Teeter Power10 Rower with Elliptical Motion
If you are looking for a more intense workout then elliptical motion will provide you with this. This type of workout targets more muscle groups and is great for everyday fitness. The machine comes with a free subscription to the Teeter personal trainer app which gives you access to a wide range of workouts.
What’s more, this rowing machine features a Bluetooth heart rate strap which helps you to keep track of your workout along with various other tracking information. The rower is made for comfort and boasts an adjustable seat and multi-grip handles for a great user experience.
The Teeter rowing machine is exceptionally easy to use thanks to the clear display and simple controls which are great for entry level users.
- Resistance type: Magnetic
- Levels of resistance: 7
- Dimensions: 62.75″ (L) x 37.5″ (W)
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Product weight: 180 lbs
3. Mr Captain Water Rowing Machine
This wooden rowing machine has a beautiful finish and a much more traditional look making it ideal for anyone who would like their rower to fit in with their home decor. Much more besides just looking great, this rowing machine offers excellent durability and a well-made design.
It is incredibly comfortable to use thanks to the ergonomically designed seat that boasts cushioned support. The foot pedals are also fully adjustable allowing you to sit in a more natural position. When you’re done, the rower comes with a storage cover to protect it from dust and UV light and boasts wheels for ease of movement.
The Mr Captain rowing machine offers quiet operation and comes with a Bluetooth screen that displays pulse, time, distance, calories, and much more. There are three workout modes allowing you to tailor the session to your liking.
- Resistance type: Water
- Levels of resistance: Level of water can be altered to adjust level of resistance
- Dimensions: 82″ (L) x 22″ (W)
- Weight capacity: 320 lbs
- Product weight: 58.5 lbs
4. NordicTrack RW 900 Rower
For anyone who is looking for an exceptionally modern piece of equipment, this is one of the very best. While it may require a slightly higher initial investment, this rower is packed with features for a truly interactive experience.
The machine comes with a 12 month family membership to iFit for up to five people. This will allow you to browse a huge catalogue of workouts, famous bodies of water as well as taking part in live classes. What’s more, the intelligent machine will adjust between 26 levels of intensity automatically, according to your needs.
This rowing machine has Bluetooth capabilities so you can use your headphones with it for a more immersive experience. What’s more, the 22-inch touchscreen is clear and easy to use, ideal for those who are new to this type of technology.
- Resistance type: Air
- Levels of resistance: 26
- Dimensions: 86.5″ (L) x 22″ (W)
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Product weight: 131 lbs
5. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine
Hydraulic rowers are a great choice for people who want something that is easy to use and versatile. This rowing machine comes with a choice of 12 resistance levels which are incredibly easy to adjust. What’s more, the simple and easy to read LCD display is ideal to older people who don’t want a lot of unnecessary information.
The rower comes with a wide seat that is fully cushioned for comfort as well as a generous weight capacity of 350 lbs. It also features secure foot pedals with a large area and straps. These also feature an anti-slip cover which is also noticeable on the handles, giving you a much more safe and comfortable experience.
The rowing machine boasts full motion range of arm movement which is great for those who are looking to burn more calories as they work out.
- Resistance type: Hydraulic
- Levels of resistance: 12
- Dimensions: 52.2″ (L) x 28.7″ (W)
- Weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Product weight: 35.8 lbs
6. Schwinn Crewmaster 100660 Rower
The Schwinn rower offers an affordable workout option that doesn’t lack in features. If you are looking for something that is easy to use and maintain, then this may be right for you. It comes with ten levels of magnetic resistance which are easy to set.
This rowing machine features a clear LCD display which is backlit and provides information on time, count, distance, calories burned, and much more. The console can also be adjusted to suit the height of the user. In terms of weight, this machine is suitable for people up to 300 lbs so is ideal for most adult users.
It comes with a ten year warranty on the frame as well as a three year parts and one year labor guarantee.
- Resistance type: Magnetic
- Levels of resistance: 10
- Dimensions: 93.1″ (L) x 21.1″ (W)
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Product weight: 90 lbs