Rowing machine vs treadmill

There are a lot of health benefits associated with physical activities (exercise). While it reduces the occurrence of various diseases like cancer and diabetes, it also helps to spur up muscular strength. Enhanced brain effectiveness and maintaining healthy body weight are other benefits of exercise.

All these health benefits are a function of how the exercise is done. Indoor exercise is becoming more popular. The rowing machine and treadmill are common indoor devices for exercise. This article will be making a detailed comparison between both devices – rowing machine vs treadmill.

In general, regular physical activity (exercise) has helped to improve the cardiovascular system and lungs. Owing to increased subscriptions for a gym, an indoor exercise machine such as the rowing machine or the treadmill is ideal to cut off those expenses, especially in the long run. The two exercise devices are very effective and they vary in terms of function and benefits.


The treadmill is an important indoor exercise device. The device is commonly used for walking and running exercise while remaining in the same position. Hence, when using a treadmill, you are utilizing all the muscles which you would rather be using when walking or running.

The device is equipped with a platform that moves as the user runs on it. However, some treadmills are powered by electric motors. The former is known as manual treadmills and the latter are the electric ones.

Rowing machine

The rowing machine is otherwise called an indoor rower. The device is very easy to operate. The device is modeled after boat rowing. The device uses more muscles than the treadmill. The arms are the major body parts used, hence, the biceps, triceps, forearms, wrist, and fingers are worked. It doesn’t end there. Other body parts including the trunk and the back are also worked out in the process.

Rowing machines are very efficient in burning body fat, making it one of the best machines for aged and obese people. During use, your legs are placed on a footrest, which is positioned at almost the same level as the body. Unlike the treadmill, your body weight is off your knees, significantly reducing the risk of tear and wear.

Comparison: rowing machine vs treadmill

The rowing machine and the treadmill have a whole lot of differences. The body impact, side effects, size (space), and cost and maintenance will be used as a focal point for comparison.

The rowing machine and the treadmill have a whole lot of differences. The body impact, side effects, size (space), and cost and maintenance will be used as a focal point for comparison.

Body impact

Treadmills are good exercise devices, however, it targets only the muscles located at the lower part of your body. It is the ideal device for runners looking to build their endurance. The rowing machine, on the other hand, works out most major muscles, particularly the trunk, of your body. To a large extent, it ensures that the whole body is toned properly. Your back, arms, abs, and shoulders are part of the worked-out muscles. Hence, rowing works out the body much better than the treadmills.

The devices produce a similar effect when considering cardiovascular. On the aspect of calorie-burning, the rowing machine is more effective since it uses the major body muscles. On a rowing machine, you can burn up to 900 calories per hour as compared to 600 calories on a treadmill. As regards weight management, the rowing machine has an edge again. The device can be used conveniently if you are overweight or obese. All you have to do is sit and start rowing. It is also great for old people.

Side effects

Regardless of which positive impacts are seen, there are some risks associated with the use of these devices. It is important to know which device poses more risk. Treadmills are more intense, although you can input your desired settings. However, it can still be compared to road running. Road running puts pressure on the knees, ankles, and feet. The overall weight of the body is carried by these parts. Hence, there is much risk involved in using a treadmill. The risk is more with those people that are starting from a less active lifestyle. Most people in this category are prone to injuries due to their weak knees and joints.

Using a rowing machine comes with benefits. While using it, you will be seated. It also has a footrest. This hints us that the knees and joints won’t be bearing the body weight. More importantly, you can intensify your physical activity without involving much of the knees and joints in the lower body. The rowing machine wins in this area too.

Size (space)

The treadmills are quite bigger and tend to occupy more space. An average treadmill can weigh up to 180 pounds. The rowing machine, on the other hand, is smaller and more compact. On average, a rower weighs about 50 pounds. Hence, it can also be moved easier.

Cost and maintenance

Comparing the cost of the two devices, the rower is less pricey. Treadmills get expensive with more features added to it. They offer more controls to suit your various needs. It is advisable to purchase those of great quality. If you are considering your budget, a rower would sound like a good choice to buy.

Regardless of the quality of the device you purchase, it needs to be properly maintained. Rowers, generally, do not require much maintenance. Treadmills have a number of moving parts that should be properly taken care of. Some treadmills need electricity to function. Hence, it requires more maintenance.

Benefits of rowing machine and treadmill

The devices have similar benefits. They help to improve your cardio. They are also ideal if you aim to reduce your weight. However, the intensity differs from each other. While using a rowing machine, you exercise a larger proportion of your body muscles. With the rowing machine, you can effectively tone your body and burn calories faster without using electricity. It has little side effects on the body. The treadmill allows you to build more on running and walking. Since it builds the lower part of the body, it is ideal for runners.


In the comparison – rowing machine vs treadmill, you might observe that most criteria didn’t favor the treadmill. This doesn’t insinuate that the treadmill isn’t good. It is a great exercise device in homes and gyms. It merely has its own target muscles. Whichever device you want to purchase, it is based on your choice.

Since a treadmill requires you to run or walk on it, then using a treadmill will be more ideal and effective for a runner than a rower. It focuses on your lower body parts and endurance. The rower is great for those who are overweight. It targets a lot of muscles in the body. It provides far more workout intensity with less stress and side-effects. On the basis of cost, maintenance, body impact, and side-effects, the rowing machine wins.

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Jim Powell

Jim is our staff editor and writer. He has a degree in engineering. His hobbies are radio engineering and new technologies about which he has been writing for more than 7 years.

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