Rowing each day through winter

Daily exercise helps energize 


Gabriel Kaplan

As the days shorten and the weather grows colder, I find myself struggling to stay awake and active throughout the day. Turns out the solution sat right in my basement: a rowing machine.

My brother got it a few years ago so he could train for Nordic without aggravating his shin splints and, while he’s away at college, it usually sits dormant. But a few weeks ago — bored out of my mind and encroaching on my sixth day of failing to leave the house (even for a walk) — I waddled down to the basement to give it a try. I loved it.

Rowing seems the perfect exercise. I get to plop down and watch TV or listen to music (you do the exercise seated) while working on over 90 percent of the body’s muscles. Okay, okay, it’s not actually that relaxing, but the fluid motion of rowing feels much less taxing than the pounding brought by other exercises like running. 

I’ve also found that rowing each day (usually an hour or two before I go to bed) has improved both my sleep and my mood, while helping me transition out of the workday. Over the last three weeks, I’ve watched the entire Hunger Games series, all eight Harry Potter movies and a whole bunch of Netflix during the rowing sessions. It’s a time to tune out and let my mind go to mush as I log stroke after stroke and stare at the screen before me. 

Although I feel like death after each session, dripping sweat and legs so sore it’s painful to walk up the stairs, I still come back the next day. Rowing has brought consistency into my daily life and helped me build a productive routine. By ending the day right, I’m able to get a good night’s sleep and then wake up fresh and ready to go (even if my thighs still ache). 

I know rowing isn’t exactly the most accessible sport — I wouldn’t be doing it if my brother hadn’t given himself tiny bone fractures through poor running technique — but I’d definitely encourage it for those who can. Some rowing machines are actually quite cheap, just a couple hundred dollars, and many (if not most) gyms have them as well. And if you can’t row, definitely build in some regular exercise.

By rowing each day, I’ve been able to add much-needed consistency and activity into my life while getting back in shape and riding out the pandemic.