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“We Don’t Just Talk About Rowing – We Actually Row!”

Can I Start Rowing at 50 – Is It Safe?

Can I start rowing at 50

“You aren’t getting older, you’re getting better,” or so the old saying goes. Well, this is true in many ways, but not in all aspects of life.

Your knees are certainly not getting better as you age. Neither are your hips or back. Which is why I see more and more older individuals taking up rowing.

If you’ve read my blog posts before, then you know that I believe rowing is fantastic for almost everyone, and that would include those over 50. If you’re in the 50 and over crowd, congrats! This is a privilege denied to many.

Are you finding it harder to stay in shape, keep your weight in check, and not make your knees scream in pain? Yeah, I’m not in the 50s crowd just yet, but my knees are already complaining.

Fortunately, there is one machine that can help, and you know what it is – your indoor rowing machine. (If you don’t have one, check out these machines that are perfect for beginners – rowing machines under $1000).

Today, I want to talk about starting to row on an indoor rowing machine once you are 50 or over. What it can do for you, what it won’t do, and whether it’s a good idea.

Oh yes, and that one weird thing about rowing after 50 that very few people know about.

Are you ready to start a new adventure at this stage of your life? Let’s talk about what a rowing program can do for you.

Is Rowing Good for Those Over 50?

Let me say that any workout routine is better than none, especially once you hit the half-century mark. And when it comes to rowing, I have good news for Boomers and the older crowd. It’s not only good for you; it’s literally the perfect exercise anyone could ever ask for.  FYI:  You might like to read our article on rowing machine workouts for seniors

elder woman rowing at the gym

When we are younger, we’re always concerned with our looks. We want to strut that bikini or go shirtless and show off that chest to the ladies, right?

Once we have kids and hit our 40s, I see too many people stop caring about their looks, which shouldn’t be the case. It’s not just vanity, it’s about your health.

Yes, we can’t work all day, party most of the night, and go back to work on 3 hours sleep like we did when we were 25. However, we have wisdom and experience that no 20-year-old has, and we should know enough not to let ourselves go and forget that our health matters.

Indoor rowing is the perfect way to incorporate both resistance training and get in cardiovascular exercise using a single machine. Yes, even when you’re 50 or older. Side Note: Be sure to also check out my article is rowing resistance training or cardio training?

I’m not just saying that because I personally enjoy rowing. If you’re not yet convinced, let me tell you what rowing has to offer:

    • A full-body workout that you can complete without any other equipment. Yes, you can still use resistance bands or take yoga classes if you like, but you can actually stay fit even if all you ever do is use your rowing machine.
    • Rowing is a low-impact workout that will not make your knees, hips, back, or other joints scream and cry. If you’ve found that your old stand-by routines such as a treadmill or stair climber hurt like heck, you will love rowing.
    • You will lose weight or maintain your weight more easily since rowing involves so many muscle groups and burns hundreds of calories an hour.
    • Your posture will improve, which will help improve your sense of balance.
    • Rowing can be meditative, meaning that many people find the rhythm of the strokes soothing to both body and mind, improving your mental health.
  • Learning to row takes only a short period of time (for most people, about 1 to 3 hours).
  • You will build new muscle, something that is healthy for people of all ages.

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Is It Dangerous to Row After 50?

elderly woman doing rowing exercise

Not at all.

I think there are many other types of exercise that could be dangerous, such as learning to rock climb, training for a decathlon, sprints, heavy weightlifting, spinning classes, jump training, extreme high-intensity intervals, and hot yoga.

Before you start an indoor rowing program, you should check with your doctor to be sure that you don’t have any restrictions, heart problems, or other health issues that might make a cardiovascular exercise program bad or dangerous for you.

For the majority of mainly healthy individuals over 50, you will find that rowing is fun, easy to learn, and safe.

If you’ve found that weight-bearing exercises make your entire body ache, try rowing.

Why Should I Take Up Rowing After 50?

Rowing is perhaps the best workout on the planet and burns more calories than just about any other exercise, except for jumping rope.

I don’t know about you, but jumping rope is NOT the thing to do for anyone over 40, in my opinion!

Cardiovascular exercise in general, and rowing is included, can offer you tremendous benefits, such as:

  • Many studies have shown that regular exercise can extend your life by almost 9 years.
  • This is a low-impact exercise that won’t make joints hurt and can even help reduce arthritis pain.
  • If you’ve got bad knees (and who over 40 doesn’t?), rowing can help reduce knee pain and strengthen the joints by making the muscles supporting the knee joint stronger.
  • You can build new muscle and keep your body tight and toned.
  • Diet matters, but rowing will increase your metabolism and help you burn a major number of calories, which means you will lose weight, or it can help you maintain the weight you have while you continue to eat as you normally would.

Rowing works all the major muscle groups in the body at one time, so you can spend less time exercising and more time enjoying the things you really want to do.

Is 20 Minutes of Rowing Each Day Enough?

For the majority of people, yes it is.

Don’t be surprised if you can only do 5 minutes or so when you first start rowing. This is really normal, and you shouldn’t let it discourage you.

Rowing is such a fantastic way of exercising, but it is hard work that you probably are not accustomed to.

Practice doing the rowing strokes properly. Improvement in your speed and endurance levels will come in time.

couple at the age of 50 rowing together at home

If you want to lose weight, you might find that a high-intensity interval training program will work best. This is also a great way for those who really don’t have much time for exercise to get in the same amount of work but spend less time on the rowing machine overall.

You might have noticed that earlier I said that some HIIT are not safe. There are HIIT programs for seniors, and I recommend that you practice those. Regular HIIT programs can be extremely intense, and I don’t recommend that you try those until you have mastered HIIT workouts for seniors.

You should also give yourself one day to rest in between these workout sessions and if you are over 70, you should take 2 days off unless you are in terrific shape.

Generally speaking, you can reach your physical fitness and weight loss goals just by doing your indoor rowing routine for 20 minutes a day, about 6 days per week. Side Note:  If you need motivation you need a interactive machine like the Aviron Rower

I can’t emphasize this enough: Please check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

That One Weird Thing

The weird thing about exercising after 50, your body no longer responds the way it used to. Even if you’ve exercised regularly most of your life, you might find at this age that you’re too tired or sore to continue your normal exercise routine.

old man training at the gym

Another strange thing about exercise after 50 is that we crave it more. It’s true! You can’t help but notice that you’re huffing and puffing to get up two flights of stairs or look in the mirror and see that spare tire that was never there before. Your first thought usually isn’t, “Oh well.” Your first thought is usually, “Oh No! I’m getting old, and I want to get back into shape!”

Here’s the last weird thing about rowing at 50 – your body will respond to this like nothing else. I’m not sure why that is, but I’ve seen more people take up rowing in their 50s and 60s and within a few weeks, they’re looking more like someone in their late 30s to early 40s.

Doesn’t that sound great?! You’ve got nothing to lose and so much to gain by starting an indoor rowing workout routine after 50, so why not go for it?!

The Bottom Line

If you feel like you’re having a mid-life crisis and aren’t sure what to do, I recommend making major changes in your life.

elderly man rowing at the gym

Clear out junk from your house or apartment. Get rid of any clothing you haven’t worn in a year. Put down your cell phone and turn off the TV at least one night per week and do something different. Go for long walks, go to a museum, play cards with your friends.

Oh yes, and this is the perfect time to start a new exercise program, such as rowing. You can reduce your blood pressure, reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke, improve your mental health, and lose weight all by rowing for just 20 minutes a day.

You are in the middle of your life- enjoy the time you have now because you will never be this young ever again.

Stay safe and happy rowing!

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