Making the cardio scene with the rowing machine

Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:12am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Overshadowed by rows of treadmills and elliptical trainers, the rowing machine is vertically challenged, usually solitary and often consigned to one of the darker corners of the gym.

But experts say if you take time to explore this wallflower of the fitness center, you'll discover a smooth operator that's easy on the joints and endowed with a powerful burn.

"It's probably the best piece of workout equipment in the gym," said Dr. Timothy Hosea of the American College of Sports Medicine. "It's a total fitness machine. Unlike running or elliptical, where you use your legs, you exercise every major muscle group in the body in a smooth, controlled manner."

Hosea, an orthopedic surgeon based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, has rowed since college. He said the rowing machine actually burns more energy per hour than running or swimming.

"The average person can easily burn 700 to 750 calories per hour going at a pretty moderate pace," he said.

So why is the rower ignored? Hosea thinks part of the problem may lie in the less-than-dignified position of the exerciser.

"When you're rowing you're sitting down, and everyone's towering over you," he said.

Then there's the learning curve. In the gym physical prowess rules, but the rowing machine requires patience.   Continued...