Rowing can be an enjoyable form of exercise as it will strengthen areas of your body such as your arms, legs and back muscles. Rowing is relaxing for your mind as well as your body. It is a smooth and even exercise that your whole body will benefit from.
There is quite a difference between rowing and paddling. Most people find that rowing is much more efficient than paddling because all the energy is utilized to drive the boat forward. Anyone who has attempted to paddle a canoe against a strong wind, would know how tiring paddling can be. When rowing you will not have to use as much energy to go the same distance.
If you are going out on a row boat for the first time, you should wear a vest styled PFD (personal floatation device). In many areas this is a legal requirement. Always have your PFD in the boat where it can be easily reached if you don't want to wear it at all times. Small children should always have life jackets on. You can find many comfortable vest style designs. Have a bailer or a small bucket aboard ( this is also legally required). A small sounding device such as an air horn or a whistle may also be required by the Coast Guard.
The most common problem for beginners is overdoing it. Pulling on the oars may feel good and invigorating, but if you are not accustomed to this type of exercise, you may strain a muscle, so take it easy. You should relax and enjoy the fresh air, sounds and the scenery.
A good rowboat should keep moving well between strokes. It should track along a straight course when rowed evenly. A boat from 12 to 17 feet in length is ideal with double positions on boats over 14 feet. The older designs from before the age of the internal combustion engine are excellent rowboats. If you need to change places while rowing, be sure the boat is stable enough. Try to keep your weight low and centered in the boat as much as possible.
Pay attention to weather forecasts when you are planning your trip. You should know what the tide is doing and stage your rowing so that you're staying with the tidal flow as much as possible. On rivers, try to row upstream if you are not familiar with the stretch to avoid any uncomfortable rapids or overfalls and make the return trip more relaxing.
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