Why Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman and More Stars Love Rowing

Why Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman and More Stars Love Rowing
Gerard Butler and Hugh Jackman. Monica Schipper/Getty Images; Keith Tsuji/Getty Images

Open-water rowing is a total-body workout. Your body gets a health overhaul as you pull two fixed oars to propel a boat through the water. The muscles in your legs, arms and torso get pumped. Your heart and cardiovascular system get a solid aerobic session. All of your joints and ligaments are tested.

Rowing is a low-impact exercise for all ages — and all abilities. Incredibly, the legendary Helen Keller, who was both deaf and blind, was an avid rower. She rowed while a friend steered the boat.

Before becoming the 26th U.S. president, Theodore Roosevelt rowed crew at Harvard. More recently, actors Bradley Cooper, Edward Norton and Hugh Laurie all competed in the sport.

“There’s nothing like winning a rowing race,” Laurie, 59, has said. “You’re facing backward, so you’re looking at the people you’re beating. There’s something very intense about that.”

Why Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman and More Stars Love Rowing

For those preferring dry land, rowing machines provide many of the same full-body benefits.

Gerard Butler credits the rowing machine for his iconic physique as Leonidas in the 2006 film 300.

“I just went nuts for a couple of weeks on the rowing machine while I was filming,” Butler, 49, has said. “It made such a huge difference to me.”

If you have a tight schedule, superstar Hugh Jackman suggests “throwing this one in” to your workout routine. The Greatest Showman star, 50, adds that it “strips fat” and “uses every single muscle.”

Indeed, the rowing machine is an ideal weight-loss solution. In just 30 minutes you can burn hundreds of calories with minimal wear and tear on your joints.

In many cities with waterfronts, kayaking is becoming increasingly popular. Nestled in a narrow craft, you face forward and alternate strokes with a double-bladed paddle to pull yourself through the water.

While enjoying many of the health benefits of rowing, you can move at a more leisurely pace. Just traveling at around five miles an hour will burn 400 calories in that hour.

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