walking vs rowing machine

Walking Vs Rowing Machine: What Burns More Calories?

Hi friends! It’s your favorite cardio queen Kathleen, and today, I want to talk about a subject that is near and dear to everyone’s heart- losing weight.

Maybe I should say this subject is near and dear to our middle and our rear? Seems appropriate.

Anyway, if you’ve been reading my previous posts, then you know that I was a big fan of my treadmill until I injured my back.

I do still enjoy running and walking from time to time, but since I discovered rowing, I’ve kind of kept the old treadmill exercise equipment on the back burner.

Between walking and rowing, I’m telling you straight away that rowing burns far more calories than walking. 

What about Rowing vs Running? 

Just the other day, that thought crossed my mind. I was wondering if I burn just as many calories rowing as I used to do running. At first, I was sure that they were pretty equal, but that’s not really true!

Everyone wants to burn as many calories as possible, either to maintain their current body weight or to lose weight. So today, let’s look at how many calories you can burn using a rowing machine vs treadmill.

I’m going to let it all hand out here, so hold on tight!

Rowing Vs Walking for Weight Loss

I can hear some of you now asking, “Kathleen, which workout is better?” Well, that would depend on your definition of “better”.

Some people believe that the “better” machine will help you lose weight quickly by burning major calories. Others believe that a high-intensity cardio workout would make for a better machine.

When it comes to rowing machine vs treadmill, it depends on what you’re hoping to get out of either of these exercise machines.

First, let’s look at the number of calories these exercise machines can burn. Keep in mind that your actual number will vary, sometimes quite a bit, since there are SO many variables that come into play, including your age, sex, current weight, and even the room temperature!

For my comparisons, I’m going to use a 150-pound female. I can’t give you info regarding the room temperature, but this will at least give you an idea. You can find a good calculator to help you determine your actual calorie burn here.

Rowing Machine Vs Incline Walking Vs Jogging

One thing that is different between a treadmill and rowing machine is that while both of these will give you outstanding cardio workouts, you can’t create an incline with a rowing machine.

Well, I suppose you could put the rear legs of most rowing machines up on a block of wood or something, but I’ve never actually seen anyone do that. I suppose that’s because rowing can be such an intense workout that it never occurs to anyone to make it even harder!

Nearly all treadmills do offer an incline feature, and even if you aren’t running, you can really up your calorie burn simply by increasing the incline.

Still, treadmills come close to using the same number of calories when you add the incline feature, but rowing workouts still beat the number of calories burned.

Type of Workout Rowing Treadmill
Moderate Intensity 500 Calories 195 Calories
Walking 3.5MPH
Vigorous Intensity 675 Calories 592 Calories
Jogging 6MPH
Intense Workout 808 Calories 709 Calories
Running 8MPH
5% Incline Not applicable 400 Calories
10% Incline Not applicable 510 Calories
15% Incline Not applicable 700 Calories

I found this table pretty interesting. I know that the incline feature will burn more calories, but even with the incline, you would have to go faster than 4 MPH to match or exceed the number of calories burned by a rowing machine.

This does explain how I managed to take off those excess pounds so easily after I hurt my back. One thing you can say about a rowing workout, it really blasts that fat away like a cannon!

Rowing machine workouts use the entire body, and they have been shown to increase your metabolism for hours afterward. Burning calories without working out longer? Who doesn’t want more of that?!

Is Rowing Better Than Walking for Exercise?

Let’s face it, treadmills have been around for decades, and you can do walking almost anywhere.

However, that being said, there is a reason why you will find other types of exercise equipment for aerobic exercise. While walking is better than sitting on your butt, it doesn’t do much for the upper body.

Treadmills, whether you walk or run, are good for the lower body. They exercise your legs and glutes, and that’s about it.

When it comes to gym equipment, nothing beats a rowing machine. Nothing. Whether you’re talking about losing weight, building new muscle, working both the lower and upper body, a rowing machine does it all.

Walking or running is great for the leg muscles, but the way I see it, why should I use a treadmill for an hour, only to use other gym machines to work my upper body?

A rowing workout is a full-body workout that uses 86 percent of the muscles in the body. This means that I can row for one hour and I’m done! No need to hit up other workout machines, no weights, no weight training!

If you’re interested in a low-impact workout, walking or an elliptical trainer seems ideal, but when it comes to fat-burning and exercising the whole body, nothing matches a rowing workout.

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Are Rowing Machines a Good Way to Lose Weight?

You bet they are!

One of the biggest reasons people work out is that they want to burn calories, that’s a given. However, no exercise machine will do that for you all by itself.

If Tesla ever makes an exercise machine that does the work for you- they will rule the world, right?

In the meantime, you’ve got to put in the effort. Unless you’re a running fanatic, you will burn more calories and therefore lose weight when you use a rowing machine rather than a treadmill.

Of course, walking or running outdoors burns more calories than a treadmill, and the same is true with rowing, but since most of us find safety and comfort in working out on our home exercise machines, we’ll stick with comparing these.

You might be able to get a comparable calorie-burning number on both a treadmill and a rowing machine depending on your weight and the effort you put into them. However, when you consider that a rowing machine will not only be easier on your joints but will also work your core muscles, improve your upper and lower body, and build you new muscle, it becomes clear why rowing is the winner.

Muscle burns far more calories than fat. So while you may burn the same number of calories walking or using the incline feature on your treadmill, in the end, the rowing machine works on building muscle, similar to strength training, which means you will burn more fat in the long run.

I also love the low-impact workout I get from a rowing machine. No more knee pain, no more riding an exercise bike hoping to avoid hip pain, because as long as I maintain proper form, rowing machines cause me no pain, even during a vigorous rowing session!

Does a Rowing Machine Cause Hip Pain – Read More Here!

Does Rowing Really Offer a Full-Body Workout?

You might think that elliptical trainers are the only machines that give you a full-body workout, but rowing machines do it better!

Elliptical trainers might work the upper body muscles and give you a lower body workout, but they don’t usually offer the strength training that a rowing machine does.

OK, the Teeter Power10 is one elliptical that does offer strength training, but it’s an elliptical rower, so there’s that.

As I mentioned earlier, rowing machines work at least 86 percent of the muscles in your body. I believe that since you’re using nearly all your muscles, you don’t feel as sore as you do after running or even a hard uphill walk.

One thing about a rowing machine that no treadmill can ever claim is that, with a rower, you can really work those abdominal muscles. Even your typical exercise bike doesn’t do that!

Both walking on a treadmill and using a rowing machine will get your heart rate up there, so why should you learn to use a rowing machine?

Quite simple! When it comes to burning calories and working both the upper and lower body, you can’t beat a rowing machine workout.

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Which Is Better for Bone Density- a Treadmill or Rowing Machine?

In this aspect, the treadmill is the winner.

Walking or running will work the lower body muscles while bearing your weight, so it’s considered a weight-bearing exercise. Any weight-bearing exercise will improve the density of your bones, no doubt about it.

However, this doesn’t have to be an either-or situation.

Nothing is stopping you from getting an entire body workout and working all the major muscle groups from your rowing machine 3 to 5 times per week, then going for some walking or running with your kids or the dog on your off days. Or you can even do it in addition to your rowing workout.

While rowing remains the best workout overall since it is a low-impact exercise that will burn fat and calories, it’s a good idea to always add other workouts. Walking or swimming or even that exercise bike will help prevent your body from becoming accustomed to doing the same thing every day.

When our bodies get used to doing something, it learns how to do it more efficiently, which means they will be burning fewer calories.

Take old Kathleen’s advice here and switch things up! Always give your body one full day to rest each week, but don’t forget to take up a new sport or just do something different. It’s good for your body and your mind.

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Which Is a Better Overall Workout?

When it comes to a rowing machine vs a treadmill, if you wanted to judge each machine on an overall basis rather than focus on one thing or another, I still believe that a rowing machine is the superior workout.

I think my treadmill is crying over this sentence, but what can I say? The truth hurts.

A rowing machine works all the major muscle groups, treadmills don’t.

Rowing machines burn more calories overall than a treadmill.

Rowing machines are low-impact, treadmills generally aren’t.

Rowing machines offer a full-body workout, treadmills don’t.

Rowing machines offer overall fitness ( learn how many calories does a rowing machine burn) and a better workout that will help you reach your fitness goals quicker.

Yes, there is a slight learning curve to a rowing machine, but there are lots of online classes, and some rowing machines, like Ergatta, have classes for beginners that are simply divine!

Don’t get me wrong, friends. There is nothing wrong with using a treadmill. I loved mine for many, many years and I do still use it from time to time, but if you want to consider all the benefits of a rowing machine vs a treadmill, I think the winner is clearly the rowing machine.

The Bottom Line

More than anything else, it’s important that we exercise our bodies daily.

Nothing will kill your metabolism like sitting on the sofa or lying in bed binge-watching Netflix. While there are days for this, they should be very few and far between.

If you don’t really enjoy rowing but love your treadmill, then, by all means, keep using it!

However, if you want to lose weight fast and keep losing it even faster as time goes on, if you want a cardiovascular system that your doctor will be proud to point out, and if you want muscle building but don’t want to lift weights or experience joint pain, you absolutely must try a rowing machine.

If you don’t have a rowing machine and you’re considering buying one for your home gym, you might find this article helpful – best rowing machines under 500 for home use.

Keep moving, friends, and eat as healthy a diet as you can stand. It will pay off in a few weeks, I promise!

Stay healthy and have fun! Life is too short for anything else!