Rowing Machine vs. Treadmill: Which Is Better?

Rowing Machine vs. Treadmill: Which Is Better?

Cardiovascular exercise involves using large muscle movements over an extended period to keep your heart rate at a percentage close to its maximum level. 

This term can be shortened to the more familiar word of “cardio” - a type of fitness activity that many gym-goers today find themselves participating in while going through their daily exercise regimens.

Although there are a wide variety of cardio machines on display whenever you go to a gym, there are two that we should analyze in particular. 

The ever-so-popular treadmill and the rowing machine are common workout equipment found in the cardio section of a gym, but which one should you prefer? There isn’t necessarily a correct answer to this, but we will dive into what makes each of these calorie-burning monsters!

Rowing Machines

Rowing machines are resistance producers that use air flowing over an internal wheel. There are variants of the classic rower, such as the water rowing machine, magnetic rowing machine, and hydraulic rowing machine. All of these accomplish similar goals but have minor distinctions. 

When focusing on the air rower, it has a wheel linked by a chain to the rowing handle or “oar,” which spins the wheel as you pull. It’s mimicked after a real-life experience rowing a canoe and is aimed to nail all parts of your body when exercising; hence its class of “full-body workout.”

The faster people row using rowing machines, the faster the wheel will spin and the more significant burn you’ll obtain from your workout. Rowing machines are ideal for their smooth feel, as well as their durability over time. They can be everyday household items for people to possess on their own, contrary to a fitness center to use one (which is also a possibility.)

If you’re looking to obtain a rowing machine of your own, check out Ski-Row Air and Ski-Row Air+PWR machines from EnergyFit! These machines serve as both rowing machines but can transform easily into ski trainers, giving you the option of alternating between the two efficient cardio exercises.

Benefits of Rowing Machines

Aside from incorporating the entire body during exercise, rowing machines are very diverse and are popular for being useful for people at varying fitness levels. 

For example, if you’re somebody that doesn’t exercise enough, or if you’re a gym junkie that finds themself at the fitness center lifting weights five days every week, rowing machines could be useful for both of you!

Going off the same notion that they’re suitable for just about anybody, this includes people with physical ailments that might be preventing them from participating in more vigorous activities than usual. Rowing machines are low impact - meaning they don’t require intense force on your joints to acquire the same pump as other activities such as running or jumping jacks.

Rowing machine exercises can still burn calories at an insane clip, but with an increasingly better chance of not acquiring an injury in the process. 

Rowing machines can also benefit the heart and lungs; it decreases the likelihood of heart problems while simultaneously strengthening the cardiovascular system. This system is responsible for transporting nutrients and oxygen throughout the human body.


Treadmills are fitness equipment that possess a belt that loops around the machine and is continuously driven by a motor. This loop allows a person to walk or run on the machine in place for as long as they would like to. Treadmills are just walking or running but not in motion - therefore, you can use them indoors without worrying about the weather.

Treadmills are one of the most popular gym equipment machines out there, largely due to how convenient they are for people that have to watch kids or fit workout schedules into their busy lives to begin with. 

Others use them as alternative modes of cardio if it’s pouring or snowing outside on a given day. Walking and running are the most common forms of cardio that people use, and for good measure - they’re excellent ways to burn fat and calories!

Benefits of Treadmills

Walking and running have been known to keep your bones and muscles strong while simultaneously healthily losing weight. While many people across the globe don’t necessarily itch at the chance of going outside for a run or walk, treadmills are supposed to bridge that gap and make it less of a hassle to get exercise altogether.

Many people will store these machines in their basements so that people do not have nearly as easy of an excuse not to work out. The cool thing is that they don’t negate the effects of this cardio on your body; using treadmills is the same as doing the real thing outdoors!

Generally speaking, an hour of walking per week can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Walking falls into the category of low impact exercising, despite its sister exercise (running) being higher impact. Walking can be highly beneficial for those struggling with some form of arthritis or looking to prevent bone and joint disease.

Treadmill workouts can also help people manage the effects of diabetes; they’re also made especially for individuals in rehab who might be recovering from a form of stroke or injury. Doctors will often send patients home with walking programs designed for treadmills for those people to begin building up their tolerance to this moderate cardio exercise.

Their leading marketing proponents lie within people who don’t frequent the gym as often as they probably should. The appeal of treadmills is how low impact they can be - it’s possible to watch TV and even work while using them! Low impact exercise has many measures of determining how they vary from their higher counterparts, but one of the tools is called the “talk test.”

In simple terms, the talk test refers to a personal measurement regarding exercise that determines whether a person can comfortably form sentences while completing a particular workout. If somebody cannot do this without panting or showing fatigue, this workout will be classified as high impact.

Going back to the TV and working example, the fact that treadmills are low impact and only focusing on the lower half of your body makes multitasking entirely possible. Not only can you multitask while working from home, but you’re also burning calories in the process!

Choosing Between Rowing Machines and Treadmills

Now that you have learned the manner and benefits of rowing machines and treadmills, some important distinctions exist between them. As mentioned earlier, rowing machines can utilize full-body exercises, whereas their counterparts (treadmills) only focus on the lower body.

Now, this information doesn’t necessarily mean that one is better than the other - it should factor into people’s decisions, though. Rowing machines make it harder for individuals to slack off while working out as a result. 

It doesn’t really matter how much resistance you set a rower at; due to its nature of forcing your upper, lower body, and core to all be involved in the process of moving the oar towards and away from your body.

This is an ideal trait for those of you who either fall in the category of needlessly wanting to lose weight and burn calories at the gym, as well as fitness gurus who already find themselves working out a decent amount, to begin with. 

One of the biggest mistakes novices can make in a fitness sense is jumping into a workout regimen too quickly. This can lead to potential injury, exhaustion, and overtraining.

Whenever you’re trying something new in the gym, regardless of your history with exercise, make sure to begin slowly and build from there. 

It’s much better to be safer and then amp your body up to a level in which it can handle the workouts you’re throwing at it. Treadmills are an excellent way to embody this idea; if you’re brand new to cardio in general, brisk walking is a perfect method to begin with.

There is a common misconception that inexperienced people have that the impact and intensity of workouts must be high for you to notice any results from what you’re exercising. 

This is not true; as we discussed earlier, there are low impact exercises that put significantly low to zero strain on your joints while bringing in similar benefits as many high impact workouts.

Accessibility and Convenience

Another important factor that could very well go into choosing between a rowing machine and a treadmill lies within the living space you’re accustomed to. If you plan to use either of these machines in a fitness center that isn’t your home, this section doesn’t apply to you, but if you don’t plan to drive to the gym, then read carefully.

Rowing machines can generally be folded up when you aren’t using them; this goes for the Ski-Row Air and Ski-Row Air+PWR machines as well. Due to this practicality, it’s not difficult for people to move these machines into storage when they aren’t exercising or want to free up their living space when having company over, etc.

If you’re living in very close proximity to your neighbors (e.g., living in an urban setting), treadmills tend to be much noisier than traditional air rowing machines. This will obviously decrease the chances of you potentially aggravating someone while working out and can open your schedule up to exercising whenever you’d like when using a rower.

To top things off, rowing machines tend to be less expensive than treadmills. This doesn’t mean you should automatically choose the cheaper option (although some people might), but it does play a factor in the seriousness of how much you plan on working out as well. If you spend a decent amount of money on gym equipment, you want to make sure you get proper use out of it.

The practicality of either of these machines always depends on the person looking to exercise. For example, you’re looking to get a treadmill because you want to begin exercising more and lose weight, but you live in the city with strict curfew times. Your decision might be to buy a gym membership instead and use the treadmill there at your own disposal.

Cardio With Ski-Row Air

All things aside, the important thing to learn from getting involved in either rowing machines or treadmills is that cardio is crucial towards benefitting your well-being and overall healthy lifestyle. 

By using a ski-trainer machine like the Ski-Row Air, cardio can be easily incorporated into your workout routine at the comfort of your home. 

If you don’t think you get enough cardio and want to try it out, make sure you do so in the same manner that will build up your body’s tolerance to the exercise over time. If you fall into the boat of somebody who already does cardio and is looking for variety, the same applies to you: cardio is key!



Treadmill Definition | JRank

Cardio 101: Benefits and tips | Mayo Clinic 

What Are the Health Benefits of Rowing? | Cleveland Clinic

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reading next

Why Do I Yawn When I Work Out?
Why Do I Yawn When I Work Out?