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What Rowing Does to Your Body, Like World Record-breaking Damian Browne

This extreme adventure seeker rowed from New York City to Ireland.

If you want to reap the rewards of getting a full-body workout, consider adding rowing to your exercise routine. Or better yet, plan a fall weekend away to get in actual rowing. One man did just that, but his session was longer than a weekend. Damian Browne spent 112 days rowing his way from Chelsea Piers in New York City all the way to Galway, Ireland in his 20-foot craft named Cushlamachree, which he documented on Instagram. Browne is the first rower to accomplish the amazing challenge, according to Read on to learn about his journey, "Project Empower," along with exactly what rowing does to your body.

Extreme adventurer Damian Browne spent a total of 2,686 hours at sea, rowing more than 3,450 nautical miles.

If you're trying to calculate just how much time the 42-year-old extreme adventurer spent at sea, it was a total of 2,686 hours. How much distance did he row? More than an astonishing 3,450 nautical miles, making history, reports. Browne actually started the rowing adventure with a friend, Fergus Farrell, with the end goal of earning money for charitable causes while breaking a world record. The two men intended to row the distance in 55 days, but Farrell's journey had to cease after two weeks due to medical reasons.

"I was alone since day 13 and it took 112 days so yeah, 99 days. You've got to appreciate and enjoy your own company to take on ocean rowing at the best of times even if you do it with somebody," The sportsman from Ireland shares, adding, "The solitude wasn't actually something that I found very testing because I'm that type of person, I do take energy from being in my own company, it's more the difficulties I faced with the conditions."

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The former pro rugby player reveals, "I accomplished what I wanted to."

The former professional rugby player and winner of The Heineken Cup hit a storm close to Furbo, Ireland. The Irish Times announced Browne's boat blew into a rocky area. Browne was rescued and brought to shore where he was greeted by his partner, daughter, and so many excited spectators. Browne explains, "When last night happened I thought 'what a disaster, tomorrow is kind of ruined for everyone' because I knew a lot of work had gone in behind the scenes," adding, "I accomplished what I wanted to and I'm safe and I'm uninjured and I have had an incredible reception. I'm a little bit taken back by it."

Browne's tireless and determined undertaking was extremely remarkable, and we are seriously motivated and impressed! Now, let's take a look at the spot-on benefits of rowing.

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Rowing is a stellar aerobic workout.

rowing team

If you're wondering what rowing does to your body, let us clue you in. Whether you decide to use a rowing machine or a boat, you're absolutely getting in some solid cardio, because it's aerobic exercise. According to Cleveland Clinic, you're also building strength with the full-body workout the exercise provides. Rowing is quite effective for your back muscles as well as improving your posture. The difference between the methods of rowing is that a machine allows you to switch up the level of pull by tweaking the tension. Browne, of course, had to keep on rowing based on the weather and water conditions. The biggest difference? When you're on a machine, you can always hop off. This extreme rowing enthusiast, however, was in it to win it!

Browne was "constantly hit with adverse currents."

Exactly how rough was Browne's course? "I can't explain how challenging the conditions were, obviously it's the North Atlantic and it's very changeable and every change I seemed to get was negative," He explains, adding, "Constantly hit with adverse currents so it was incredibly stressful because you would work so hard and put so much into getting one miles or two miles and then you could come off the oars for 15 minutes and you could have half of that mile wiped out and you'd have to put the head down again to regain it" (via

What part of his body was most concerning? Browne says, "I think the biggest effect it has is on your hands because you're gripping a serious degree of force with the oars because they can be popped out of your hands very easily if you're not careful."

Needless to say, this totally enthusiastic—and clearly fit—adventurer described the experience as a "fight" from New York to Ireland to RTÉ's News At One, and it was a truly "special moment" to be reunited with his loved ones and friends when he arrived in Galway. He says both feet are now on "solid ground."

With rowing, you're strengthening your heart and muscles at the same time.

fit man indoor rowing

If you're motivated to add rowing to your own workout regimen, you don't have to be quite as passionate as Browne. What rowing does to your body is pretty awesome. According to Hollis Tuttle, CITYROW Go Lead Instructor in New York City (via Men's Health), "Indoor rowing is an excellent low-impact option for improving cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance." Tuttle adds, "Since it is a low-impact sport, rowing reduces the risk of damage to weight-bearing joints, such as hips, ankles, and knees, which tend to be prone to injury and soreness when doing high-impact sports."

Rowing is a spectacular exercise at every age and level of physical activity, providing a "two for one" benefit. You're strengthening your heart and all of your muscles at the same time. So, are you ready to get your row on?

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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