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Row, Row, Row Your Way to Fitness

Whether you're a landlubber or a master mariner, you can enjoy excellent fitness benefits from rowing, which engages more muscles than most other forms of aerobic exercise.

Rowing "burns more calories for equivalent power output than cycling or treadmill running," says Frederick C. Hagerman, director of the work physiology lab at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Depending on how vigorously you row, you can expend from just over 400 to more than 1,000 calories per hour by rowing.

The advantage to rowing, over high-impact aerobic exercises such as running, is that rowing is easier on the joints. For people with arthritis, rowing can be a great low-impact lifeline for attaining aerobic fitness.

If you're interested in row, row, rowing a boat and you like the social aspects of joining a club of like-minded people, check out Rowing Canada at rowingcanada.org to find a club in your area. Landlubbers can also derive aerobic benefits on rowing machines at local fitness centres.

Sandi Gauvin

Peak Performance

When do you gain the most benefit from your exercise regimen? Do you like to greet the new day with a workout, or are you more energized by a late afternoon or early evening run?

Dr. Phyllis Zee, a neurologist at Northwestern University of Medicine, suggests that our circadian rhythms regular changes in mental and physical characteristics that occur in the course of a day determine the best timing for sports performance.

"The best time to work out is in the late afternoon," Zee says, "because your muscle strength is at its peak, meaning you're less likely to injure yourself. It's also a time when you are most awake and alert."

If afternoon or early evening exercise doesn't fit your schedule, though, health experts agree: It's better to exercise any time of day than not at all. If you exercise in the morning, just be sure to spend a few more minutes warming up.

S.G.

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