When the subject of working out arises, many of us think about walking or weights. Both are great, but there’s another form of exercise worth looking into: rowing. Along with the perk of remaining seated during an entire workout, rowing offers a variety of benefits. It increases your endurance, sculpts muscles, and fights stress. If you’re thinking you couldn’t possibly afford the price or space for one, think again. We’ve gathered the best rowing machines for seniors currently on the market, and you’ll be surprised at the selection available.
- Best rowing machine for beginners : Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rower
- Best rowing machine for home : Concept2 RowErg
- Best interactive rowing machine for seniors : Hydrow Rower
- Best designed rower for seniors : Hydrow Wave Rower
- Best water rowing machine for seniors : XTERRA ERG600W Water Rowing Machine
- Best rowing machine for seniors : Fitness Reality 4000MR Magnetic Rower
- Best rowing machine for seniors on Amazon : Joroto Magentic Rowing Machine
- Best rowing machine for back support : Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Bike and Rower
- Best wooden water Rowing Machine : TRUNK Water Rowing Machine
- Best Rowing Machine under $500 : SNODE Water Rowing Machine
Can you get in shape just by rowing?
A well-rounded fitness routine incorporates three elements: cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility. When rowing, you knock two out — cardio and strength — in one sitting (pun completely intended).
Indoor rowing machines may be one of the first pieces of exercise equipment ever invented. Sometimes referred to as ergometers, or “ergs,” rowers began being produced commercially in the mid-1800s for college students who practiced crew. The eighties, AKA the golden age of fitness, made the sport popular with everyday exercisers.
Rowing is a full body workout. According to the American Fitness Professionals Association (AFPA), rowing machines engage 25 to 35 percent of your upper body and 65 to 75 percent of your legs. To keep proper form and protect the back, users must utilize their core muscles. You can target your hamstrings, quads, deltoids, biceps, and rectus abdominis (the six-pack region).
Is rowing a good home workout?
Absolutely! Rowing machines are a great choice if you’re looking for home workout equipment. They are multifunctional and allow you to avoid cluttering your home with a bunch of large machines.
Another benefit of owning a rower? Avoiding the germs found at the average gym. It’s also nice to know that no matter the time or weather, you can still work out.
When buying a rower, consider price and size. Typical ergometers measure around eight feet, but home versions can be as small as five feet long. The money you’ll spend will depend on the type of rowing machine you purchase, the brand, and the tech it includes. While rowing machines can be over $2,000, there are plenty that fall under $1,000.
Is 30 minutes of rowing enough?
Doctors often stress the importance of cardio for heart health. The best rowing machines for seniors help improve circulation, cut the risk of type 2 diabetes, and can help manage glucose levels if you’re already diabetic. According to Johns Hopkins, to boost heart health, one should aim for 30 minutes of rowing a day, five days a week. Rowing is fantastic for getting your heart rate up, while also increasing strength and muscle. Women should strength train at least two days per week, for thirty minutes, according to the Mayo Clinic. When rowing is part of your workout routine, hitting that goal is simple.
If you’re looking to drop pounds or just manage your weight, rowing is a great option. A study published in Frontiers showed that regular exercise, like using a rowing machine, improved metabolism and reduced belly fat. Weight loss ultimately comes down to calories in versus calories out, so choosing the activity that burns the most energy in the least amount of time in a no-brainer. According to ACE, a 150-pound woman burns 238 calories in 30 minutes of moderate rowing. Alternatively, a moderate walk (about 3.5 mph) burns 129 calories in the same amount of time. That’s a big difference!
Combining rowing with a healthy diet (if you’re not big on cooking, check out these meal service delivery kits) can not only help you hit fitness goals, but lead to feeling better overall. In one 2020 study, researchers found that both light and intense exercise correlated with less depression in older adults.
What are the best rowing machines for seniors?
The best rowing machines for seniors are lightweight, easy to assemble, easy to transport, and have built-in safety features. There are four different kinds: hydraulic, magnetic, water, and air.
Air rowers use air to create resistance as it moves over the internal flywheel. The chain is connected to it, and the faster you row, the higher the resistance becomes. If you’re looking for a rower similar to what you’d find at a gym, this is the type for you. They can be noisy, but they’re also the industry standard.
Rowing machines that use water have their flywheel in a tank. When you pull the handle, it creates a drag, similar to rowing an actual boat. They’re quiet, and are the best rowing machine for seniors who want to work out without disturbing others.
Magnetic rowers have magnetic inside the flywheel, which creates resistance. They will not become harder to pull the faster you go, but the seat can be adjusted to create more of a challenge. You can also add resistance via the control panel. Of the four types of rowers, magnetics are the most common in homes, and one of the best rowing machines for seniors.
Hydraulic rowers get their resistance from pistons. They’re not expensive, making them one of best rowing machines for seniors on a budget. Some can have a wonky glide, but they get the job done, and they fold away for easy storage.
Are rowing machines good for people over 50?
Rowing machines are great for people 50 years old and up. Since the workout is done seated, it’s considered low impact, which means it’s easy on the joints. Bone health is always important, but especially as we age. A study published in BioMed International showed that resistance training improved the bone density of postmenopausal women.
When you’re looking for the best rowing machine for seniors, you’ll want to choose one that’s safe and encourages proper form. This will help minimize the risk of injury and help you get the most out of your workout. And remember to always check with your doctor when starting a new fitness routine — if you have back issues, rowing may not be the best exercise for you.
Looking for even more options? Check out our other exercise equipment recommendations:
- Best Folding Rowing Machines
- Best Folding Exercise Bikes
- Best Exercise Bikes for Seniors
- Best Treadmills for Walking for Seniors
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
Best Rowing Machines for Seniors
Why we like it:
- Easy to move
- Adjustable foot straps
- Easy to read monitor
If you’re sold on the benefits of rowing but are new to the workout, the Magnetic Rowing Machine from Sunny Health & Fitness is the way to go. The fully padded seat is easy on the tush, and the pivoting pedals are anti-slip, allowing for more natural movement, while providing extra protection. Large handles help you find your perfect grip as you row your way into your fitness goals. Select from eight resistance options, and watch your distance on the screen built into the front of the flywheel. It easily slides across the floor if you need to move it to a new location, and folds up for storage. Users rave about its straightforward functionality: “This rower is exactly what I needed; a good, simple workout machine. Works like a charm and easy to put together.”
Why we like it:
- Detaches for easy storage
- Smartphone holder
Branded as a machine “built for rowers, by rowers,” the Concept2 RowErg is perfect if you have dreams of elite-style training. The bestselling machine uses air resistance, which can be controlled through its damper. Your ride will be smooth and quiet, no matter how hard you row. Its performance monitor is loaded with games, workout options, and can connect to fitness apps, and bluetooth. Assembly isn’t complicated (it only takes eight screws), and the base of the rower detaches for when you want to store it out of sight. It’s slim and fits neatly in corners or a closet.
Promising review: “I was hesitant buying this online. However, Amazon was excellent in their delivery promptness. Rower is ideal for 70-year-old [treadmill person,] ready for a transition. Wish I’d done this years earlier. Machine is sturdy and well made.”
Why we like it:
- Sophisticated design
- Live workout capable
The Hydrow Rower may be the Bentley of rowing machines. Sometimes referred to as the Peleton of rowers, it comes with all the bells and whistles you can imagine. It boasts a 22-inch touchscreen, where you can follow rowing live and on on-demand workouts (these must be purchased separately) or watch your metrics. The magnetic machine is heavy, but that also means it won’t budge even if you’re rowing fast. No wonder it made it onto Oprah’s Favorite Things 2021 list!
Why we like it:
- Color options
- Can be stored upright
- 30-day risk free trial
If the Hydro Rower is the Bentley of rowing machines, consider the Hydrow Wave Rower a Mercedes. Gorgeous, smooth, and like rowing on the open lake — minus the turbulence. What makes it different than its predecessor is that it’s 30 percent smaller, making it a great option if you’re tentative about bringing a large piece of equipment into your space. Featuring a gorgeous 16 inch screen where more than 4,000 workouts can be enjoyed (with a Hydrow membership, $44 per month), your muscles won’t get bored. Although it doesn’t rotate like the original Hydrow Rower, something tells us you won’t mind once you experience how authentically it operates. The machine is also available in four colors, and can be stored up right when you need extra room.
Why we like it:
- Elevated seat
- Large LCD console
Want to feel like you’re out on the open water? The XTERRA ERG600W Water Rowing Machine will do just that. There are six levels of resistance, each dependent on the amount of water placed in the tank. The seat is 13.5 inches high, making it easier to get on and off. Row at your own pace or select from the five programs available. A large adjustable LED display screen allows you to track time, number of strokes, calories burned, distance, and more. Measuring at six feet and seven inches when assembled, and can be folded away when not in use. Users love the soothing sound the water makes. One writes: “[It’s] easy to assemble, sturdy, water resistance (the swooshing water sound is really relaxing), has a smooth resistance, and fairly compact.”
Why we like:
- Customizable workouts
- Independently moving handles
This machine from Reality Fitness is taller than traditional ones, but that’s why it’s one of the best rowing machines for seniors. The contoured seat of the 4000MR Magnetic Rower is 21 inches off the ground, making it an ideal choice for folks who have issues with bending. We’re also obsessed with the rubber grip handles that can move independently, giving a more authentic rowing experience. The large pedals have adjustable straps for feet and heels. There are 10 preset workouts, but you can program your own or row based off of a goal, such as calorie burning or time. Resistance can be kept low or cranked up to 16 if you’re just feeling it!
Why we like it:
- Great reviews on Amazon
- Space saving
- Ipad holder
Hundreds of folks on Amazon love how simple this Joroto rower is to assemble. We love it for its durable handle, ergonomic seat, and magnetic resistance. There’s an LCD display in the front to keep track of your time and calorie burn, and once you’re done sweating it out, it can be upright to save space. There are eight levels of magnetic resistance, and a place in the front where a iPad can be attached. Row while you watch your favorite show. The time with fly by.
Promising review: “Overall, I am extremely pleased with this rower. The rower comes packaged well and assembly time took me around 20 minutes. While the rower comes with a few included tools, I found using some of my own helped speed up the process. You’ll have to flip the rower over a few times to get a few of the screws in, but it all goes together quite nicely. This is the first rowing machine I have ever owned, and I’m a little regretful I didn’t purchase one sooner. The rowing motion is smooth during both the pull and relax phases and is surprisingly meditative during workouts. There’s a rhythm to the actions that have made working out on this machine….enjoyable. The built in resistance varies from an easy stroke to what I’m guessing rowing against a strong current feels like. It’ll make you sweat once you start going from levels 5-10. The seat and foot pedals are comfortable.”
Why we like it:
- Doubles as a bike
- Seated back
- Pulse sensors
Cross-training is a great way to avoid plateaus, and if you can do it with one machine, all the better. The Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Bike and Rower does just that. Part bike, part rower, you can enjoy the benefits both devices offer without sacrificing more space. The handlebars have built-in heart rate sensors, and the large aluminum rail makes for an easy slide motion. The seated back provides extra comfort and posture control, making it a great option if you’re concerned about injuries. The rower is quiet, and one happy purchaser noted how easy the hybrid made it for her to remain active: “Glad I bought this instead of just an exercise bike. It’s easy to switch modes from rowing to cycling and then standing positions. The ability to do all three exercises keeps me interested in an exercise routine.”
Why we like it:
- Classic look
- Slim upright storage
I always appreciate an uncomplicated design, and you will too when it comes to this rower. The TRUNK Water Rowing Machine has a vintage feel, but operates as seamlessly as tech driven models. It’s built with timber wood, and has a monitor that displays split time, stroke count, and calories. The footrest is adjustable, and the anti-pinch roller means your seat won’t jostle. Resistance is self-regulated, so no worries about fiddling with knobs or buttons. All you have to do is row!
Promising review: “This is a great machine for the money. It’s well made, sturdy, attractive, and folds up easily and more compactly than any similar wood machines that I looked at. It even comes with a phone holder that is just barely big enough to hold my iPad Air, which is great. A dye to color the water [is included]. It has much better resistance than the magnetic tower I replaced. The company also has excellent communication and responded to messages within hours.”
Why we like it:
- Free app
- Adjustable monitor
Exercising at home is great, but so is the motivation that comes from working out with a trainer. What we love about the SNODE Water Rower is that it can be used with the Fitlog app (it’s free!) to access fitness tutorials and personalized workout plans. The flywheel has 16 fan blades, helping to create an authentic drag experience that will make you feel like you’re gliding through a peaceful lake. The display tracks calorie, time, distance, and can move to meet your eye level for easy viewing. Foam grips are gentle on hands, and the steel frame ensures you won’t feel like you’re in a rocky boat.
Why we like it:
- Straightforward design
- Manual resistance
Like your fitness equipment simple and unassuming? You’ll love the LANOS Hydraulic Rowing Machine. It doesn’t connect to Bluetooth or have fancy accessories, but that doesn’t mean it won’t make you sweat. Remember when we mentioned that the best rowing machines for seniors were lightweight?This rower is only 34 pounds! It’s also durable, and measures 23 inches wide when upright. Pull in front of the TV and prepare for the time to fly by. The monitor tracks calories, and there’s a resistance knob that allows you to control the intensity of your session. Buyers on Amazon love its efficiency and compact design: “This machine is great. Easy on the joints, especially knees. I work longer and harder on this than I would a treadmill or running. Doesn’t take up a lot of room.”
Why we like it:
- Solid construction
- Velcro foot straps
- Raise cushioned seat
This Folding Magnetic Rowing Machine from Mermax is strong and eye-catching. You’ll enjoy how the foam handle makes for a comfortable grip, and how supportive the sculpted seat is. Large Velcro straps keep feet securely in place, and the built-in monitor lets you track your progress. There are also built in base wheels, so you can move it easily. Choose between eight levels of resistance.