Rowing whether competitive and recreational is unique compared to most sports because this type of aerobic exercise gives all your major muscle groups a beneficial workout. Everything from your legs, back, and arms are engaged while rowing. This is a low-impact sport, the rowing stroke is a fairly safe motion, providing little room for the serious injury often found in contact and high-impact sports.
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Outside of resistance type, we found the number-one arbiter of ride feel to be cord quality. Water ergometers tend to employ nylon cords, while air ergometers feature metal chains — a durability factor we anticipated would result in our favoring air. But while all three water rowers aced our expectation of smooth, high-tension strokes, perfecting the chain seems to be more difficult: Some tug with just a slight rumble, others feature bouncy, grinding chains that are incredibly loud, something akin to angry snoring. As for nylon, the best wind and unwind like elastic silk — no slack, no sound, no catching, just perfectly even tension throughout the stroke.