Oarsome exercise

Follow the lead of our Olympic heroes and get fit at a stroke

In a few weeks time Birmingham will host the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Millions will tune in to the glittering evening at the NEC which is sure to reflect on a sensational Olympic Games for Team GB. Leading the super Brits in Rio were our superb rowers – who can fail to be inspired by the likes of 40-year-old Katherine Grainger as she became the country’s most decorated female Olympian? On your own or as part of a team, rowing is an excellent form of all-round exercise and is one of the few non-weight bearing sports that uses all the major muscle groups, including the lower and middle back, hamstrings, calves, gluteal muscles and biceps. As a predominantly aerobic sport it’s a fantastic way of promoting weight loss and a great way to fight fat as you can easily burn up to 600 calories per hour. At the same time it will help build strength in your upper body and core with all the associated benefits.


Because the rowing stroke is a fairly safe motion it’s a low impact exercise, meaning less wear and tear on your body and joints with much reduced potential for damage associated with other contact and high-impact sports such as running. Rowing enhances your lung’s ability to provide oxygen to the blood, heart and the rest of your body which helps to fight heart disease. As an added benefit it can also be done in short intervals – all you need is 30 minutes of steady state exercise, or 10 minutes of high intensity intervals – in the boat or on the rowing machine. The consistent and rhythmic activity of rowing is a great way to switch off and fight stress. While there’s nothing quite like easing down a quite river or lake for a bit of added peace of mind, even if you don’t have access to your own boat or water, your local gym is bound to have quality rowing machines so there’s really no excuse. One tip though! If you haven’t rowed before or have been fairly inactive for a while, remember to start slowly and gradually build up your resistance levels. Rome wasn’t built in a day and our Olympic heroes have been training for decades.