Rowing vs Walking For Weight Loss

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Rowing vs Walking For Weight Loss

Incorporating physical activity into your routine is essential, but embarking on a weight loss journey can often feel overwhelming, especially when confronted with countless exercise options. Two popular options for weight loss are rowing and walking, each offering unique benefits.

In this article, we will embark on an exciting journey to explore the world of rowing vs walking for weight loss, uncovering their respective merits and helping you decide which one suits your weight loss goals best. So, let’s dive right in!

Rowing For Weight Loss

The Rowing Revolution: Why Rowing?

Rowing has gained significant popularity in recent years and for good reason. It is a full-body exercise that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, resulting in a highly efficient workout. The primary muscle groups targeted during rowing include the legs, core, arms, and back1. This comprehensive engagement leads to increased calorie burning and accelerated weight loss2.

Calories Galore: The Fat-Burning Potential

Rowing is a high-intensity cardiovascular exercise that can burn a substantial amount of calories in a relatively short period. On average, a person weighing 155 pounds (70 kg) can burn around 252 calories during 30 minutes of moderate rowing or up to 369 calories in a vigorous rowing workout of the same duration3. Furthermore, the resistance offered by the water or the rowing machine allows you to increase the intensity, maximizing your calorie burn.

Building Muscles: The Toned Advantage

Apart from torching calories, rowing helps build lean muscle mass, which is vital for weight loss4,5. When you row, your muscles work against resistance provided by the water or the resistance settings on the rowing machine. This constant resistance stimulates muscle fibers throughout your body, resulting in increased strength and improved muscle tone.

The engagement of multiple muscle groups during rowing is what sets it apart from many other forms of cardiovascular exercise. While rowing primarily targets the legs, core, arms, and back, it also activates smaller stabilizing muscles. This comprehensive muscle engagement leads to better overall body composition and increased muscle definition.

Building lean muscle mass is crucial for weight loss because muscles are more metabolically active than fat tissue. This means that even at rest, your muscles burn more calories than fat6. By incorporating rowing into your fitness routine, you not only burn calories during the workout but also set your body up to burn more calories throughout the day.

Low Impact, High Rewards: Joint-Friendly Exercise

In the realm of fitness, the impact on joints is a crucial factor to consider, especially for individuals with joint issues or those who seek a safe and sustainable exercise regimen. This is where rowing shines as a standout exercise choice due to its low-impact nature.

Unlike high-impact activities such as running or jumping, rowing is a low-impact exercise that minimizes stress on the joints, particularly the knees and ankles. When rowing, your feet remain securely fastened to the footrests, eliminating the repetitive pounding experienced during running or jogging. This significantly reduces the risk of joint injuries, making rowing an ideal option for individuals with conditions such as arthritis, joint pain or those recovering from injuries.

The fluid, gliding motion of rowing not only protects the joints but also promotes joint flexibility and mobility. The range of motion required during the rowing stroke encourages gentle movement and helps to improve joint health over time. By engaging in regular rowing sessions, you can strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints, providing additional support and stability to protect them from potential injuries.

Row & Slim: Mastering Strategies For Weight Loss

Here is a list of strategies to maximize the potential of rowing for weight loss:

  • Consistency is Key – make rowing a regular part of your fitness routine. Aim for at least three to five sessions per week to maintain momentum and achieve optimal results.
  • Gradually Increase Intensity – as your fitness level improves, gradually increase the intensity of your rowing workouts. You can achieve this by rowing at a faster pace, increasing resistance settings on the rowing machine, or incorporating interval training.
  • HIIT it UpHigh-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can be highly effective for weight loss. Alternate between short bursts of intense rowing (e.g., rowing at maximum effort for 30 seconds) and active recovery periods (e.g., rowing at a slower pace) for a set duration. This technique boosts calorie burn and increases your metabolism.
  • Set Target Distances or Times – challenge yourself by setting specific distance or time goals for each rowing session. For example, aim to row a certain distance (e.g., 5 kilometers) or row continuously for a specific time duration (e.g., 30 minutes). Gradually increase the targets as you become more comfortable.
  • Incorporate Circuit Training – combine rowing with other exercises in a circuit format. Alternate between rowing intervals and bodyweight exercises (e.g., push-ups, squats, lunges) to keep your heart rate elevated and engage different muscle groups. This enhances overall calorie burn and promotes muscle development.
  • Focus On Technique – proper rowing technique ensures efficient movement and maximizes the engagement of target muscle groups. Seek guidance from a certified rowing instructor or watch instructional videos to learn and refine your technique. Maintaining proper form minimizes the risk of injury and helps you get the most out of your workouts.
  • Increase Duration – gradually increase the duration of your rowing sessions to extend the calorie-burning time. If you typically row for 30 minutes, aim to gradually increase to 45 minutes or even an hour. However, always listen to your body and progress at a pace that feels comfortable and sustainable for you.
  • Cross-Train – supplement your rowing workouts with other forms of exercise. Incorporating strength training, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, helps build lean muscle mass, which can further boost your metabolism and aid in weight loss. Additionally, engaging in activities like cycling, swimming, or jogging on non-rowing days can provide variety and prevent boredom.
  • Fuel Your Body Properly – nutrition plays a significant role in weight loss. Ensure you’re consuming a well-balanced diet that provides adequate energy for your workouts while supporting your weight loss goals. Focus on consuming lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your rowing sessions.
  • Monitor Caloric Intake – while rowing burns calories, it’s important to be mindful of your overall caloric intake. Create a calorie deficit by consuming slightly fewer calories than your body needs for weight maintenance. However, it’s essential to strike a balance and avoid excessively restricting calories, as it can lead to decreased energy levels and hinder your performance.
  • Prioritize Recovery – allow your body sufficient time to recover and repair. Rest days are essential for preventing overuse injuries and promoting muscle growth. Additionally, incorporate stretching, foam rolling, and other recovery techniques to alleviate muscle soreness and improve flexibility.
Rowing Everywhere: Discovering The Perfect Spots For Rowing

Rowing can be done in various settings, depending on the equipment and resources available to you. Here are some common places where you can do rowing:

  • Gyms and Fitness Centers – rowing machines are commonly found in gyms, providing indoor rowing workouts.
  • Rowing Clubs and Boathouses – these facilities offer rowing on water, with access to rowing boats, oars, and coaching.
  • Home Rowing Machines – invest in a rowing machine for personal use at home, offering convenience and flexibility.
  • Outdoor Waterways – rowing can be done on suitable bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, or coastal areas, with a rowing boat or shell.

Walking For Weight Loss

The Simplicity Of Walking: Why Walk?

Walking is a fundamental and accessible form of exercise that requires minimal equipment and can be performed anywhere. It’s a low-cost activity that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine, making it a popular choice for individuals seeking sustainable weight loss solutions.

Stepping Towards Weight Loss: Calorie Burning Potential

While walking may seem less intense compared to rowing, it is far from being a slouch when it comes to burning calories. In fact, walking offers significant calorie-burning benefits, and the amount of calories burned during a walk depends on several key factors, including distance, speed, and body weight.

When you walk, your body is in constant motion, engaging multiple muscles and increasing your heart rate. This steady-state aerobic exercise gradually elevates your metabolism, leading to calorie burn that can contribute to weight loss7,8.

The exact number of calories burned during a walk varies based on individual factors, but let’s consider an example. A person weighing 155 pounds (70 kg) can expect to burn approximately 175 calories during a 15-minute brisk walk3. By maintaining a steady pace and covering a moderate distance, you can achieve a substantial calorie burn.

A Gateway To An Active Lifestyle: Consistency And Habit Formation

Walking serves as an excellent entry point for individuals who are new to exercise or have limited fitness levels. It offers a gentle and accessible means to establish a habit of regular physical activity, creating a strong foundation for a more active and healthy lifestyle.

For beginners, starting with walking provides a low barrier to entry. It requires no special equipment, minimal technique, and can be done at your own pace. This makes it an ideal choice for individuals who may feel intimidated by more intense or complex exercises. Walking allows you to ease into physical activity, gradually building up your fitness levels without overwhelming your body.

The beauty of walking lies in its simplicity and convenience. It can be easily incorporated into your daily routine, whether it’s walking to work, taking a stroll during lunch breaks, or going for an evening walk with friends or family. This flexibility eliminates the need for designated exercise time and makes it easier to establish a consistent habit of regular physical activity.

Consistency is key when it comes to any fitness regimen, and walking provides an easy and enjoyable means to stay active on a daily basis. By making walking a part of your daily routine, you create a foundation of regular exercise, which sets the stage for future progress and more intense workouts.

Walking helps condition your body for more demanding activities by gradually improving cardiovascular fitness, strengthening muscles, and increasing endurance. As you become more comfortable and confident with walking, you can gradually introduce additional challenges, such as increasing your pace, tackling more challenging terrains, or incorporating short intervals of jogging or brisk walking.

Mental Health Benefits: The Walking Zen

Walking not only benefits your physical health but also has a positive impact on mental well-being. It can help reduce stress, improve mood, and boost creativity9. When you incorporate walking into your weight loss journey, it provides an opportunity to clear your mind, find inspiration, and enhance your overall quality of life.

Taking a leisurely stroll or brisk walk can act as a natural stress reliever, reducing the levels of stress hormones in your body while promoting the release of endorphins, known as the “feel-good” hormones. This, in turn, uplifts your mood and alleviates symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Moreover, walking stimulates creativity by providing a change of scenery and allowing your mind to wander, leading to fresh ideas and innovative thinking. So, lace up your walking shoes and explore the incredible benefits that walking can bring to both your physical and mental well-being.

Stepping Up Your Walking Game: Strategies To Supercharge Your Calorie Burn

Here are a few strategies to maximize the calorie-burning potential of your walking sessions:

  • Increase Your Walking Pace – by picking up the pace and transitioning from a leisurely stroll to a brisk walk, you can increase the intensity of the workout and burn more calories. Pump your arms, maintain good posture, and focus on taking longer strides to make your walk more challenging.
  • Incorporate Inclines Or Hills – walking uphill or on hilly terrain requires your muscles to work harder, resulting in a greater calorie burn. Seek out routes that include inclines, or find a local park with hills to add a natural resistance element to your walk.
  • Extend The Duration – increasing the duration of your walk allows you to accumulate more steps and burn additional calories. Gradually increase your walking time, aiming for 45 minutes to an hour of walking, or even consider splitting your walks into multiple shorter sessions throughout the day.
  • Add Interval Training – incorporate short bursts of higher intensity into your walk by alternating between a brisk pace and a faster, more vigorous pace. This interval training approach can further elevate your heart rate and boost calorie burn.
  • Incorporate Additional Challenges – consider adding weight by carrying a backpack or wearing ankle weights, but do so cautiously and consult with a healthcare professional or a trainer to ensure proper form and avoid excessive strain on joints.
Walk Your Way To Weight Loss: Discover The Perfect Paths For A Fitter You

Walking for weight loss can be done in various locations, depending on your preferences and accessibility. Here are some options:

  • Neighborhoods and Residential Areas – convenient and accessible for walking close to home.
  • Parks and Nature Trails – serene natural settings with walking paths or trails.
  • Urban Areas and City Streets – invigorating walks amidst bustling streets and cityscapes.
  • Treadmills – an indoor option with adjustable settings for controlled walking.
  • Shopping Malls – climate-controlled environments suitable for walking regardless of the weather.
  • Indoor Tracks – dedicated indoor spaces for walking in fitness centers or community centers.

Rowing vs Walking For Weight Loss: The Verdict

While both rowing and walking have their merits, the choice ultimately depends on your preferences, fitness level, and goals. Here are some key factors to consider:


Rowing offers a higher intensity workout, resulting in greater calorie burn in a shorter time. If you enjoy challenging, high-intensity exercises, rowing may be the better option for you.


Walking wins in terms of convenience and accessibility. It requires no special equipment and can be done almost anywhere. If you prefer a simple and hassle-free workout, walking is an excellent choice.


Rowing is a low-impact exercise, making it suitable for individuals with joint issues. Walking is also low-impact but may put more stress on the joints, particularly if you have existing joint problems.


Rowing allows for more variation in your workouts, with options like indoor rowing machines and outdoor rowing on lakes or rivers. Walking offers versatility in terms of route and terrain, allowing you to explore new areas.


Rowing and walking are both effective methods to lose weight, offering distinct benefits to suit different individuals. Rowing provides a high-intensity, full-body workout that engages both the upper and lower body, targeting major muscle groups while burning calories and minimizing joint impact. On the other hand, walking offers accessibility, convenience, and the opportunity to establish a consistent exercise routine while enjoying mental and physical health benefits.

Ultimately, the best exercise for losing weight is the one that you enjoy and can sustain in the long run. So whether you choose to hop on a rowing machine or take a brisk walk, remember that consistency, dedication, and a healthy lifestyle are key to achieving your weight loss goals. So get moving, have fun, and let the fat-burning adventure begin!


1 Fenton, C. (2021). What Muscles Does a Rowing Machine Work? LIVESTRONG.COM. https://www.livestrong.com/article/82840-muscles-rowing-machine-work/

2 Rd, H. W. (2023, April 19). Does Exercise Help You Lose Weight? The Surprising Truth. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-exercise-cause-weight-loss#pro-tips

3 Harvard Health. (2021, March 8). Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-for-people-of-three-different-weights

4 Fig. 1 Body mass, lean body mass and percent body fat for young and. . . (n.d.). ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Body-mass-lean-body-mass-and-percent-body-fat-for-young-and-national-level-rowers_fig1_47508257

5 Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier. (2023, April 29). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670

6 Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.). Metabolism. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21893-metabolism

7 Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.). Aerobic Exercise. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/7050-aerobic-exercise

8 National Academies Press (US). (1993). Physiological Responses to Exercise in the Heat. Nutritional Needs in Hot Environments – NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK236240/

9 Robinson, L. (2023). The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise. HelpGuide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm


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