Take Pause: Indoor Rowing for Post-Menopausal Weight Loss

A historic sport is creating a big splash for menopausal women and people of all ages

An instructor shouts encouragement and counts down the next interval surrounded by adults of all ages on indoor rowing machines. Indoor rowing is looking like the right fitness fit for Central Texans seeking a better workout. Especially for menopausal and post-menopausal women who may reap the benefits of increasing metabolism, muscle gain and weight loss.

Why is it so hard to lose weight after Menopause?

According to Dr. Michele McDermott, Menopause specialist at The Austin Diagnostic Clinic, weight gain is the most common complaint of women at the time of menopause.  On average women gain one pound per year after age 40 years.  Metabolic changes associated with menopause and aging cause a decline in muscle and an increase in abdominal fat.  A study of women age 42-52 followed over 6 years showed accumulation of fat in the abdomen, underlying the skin and surrounding the internal organs. 1, 2

pre and post menopausal weight gain

Downloaded under educational permission from MyHealthyWaist.org

Dr. McDermott counsels her patients not to expect the exercise that worked for them in their 30’s will continue to provide the same benefit in their 40’s, 50’s and beyond.  Research has shown that high intensity interval training is needed to increase metabolic rate, increase lean body mass, and increase energy expenditure.  She says, “I recommend Row on Austin to my patients who need high intensity exercise to lose body fat and gain back muscle.  I personally love the challenge of the classes, and know that I am doing something important that makes me feel good now, and will keep me fit as I age. ”

About Indoor Rowing

Each 55-minute class maintains a balance of strength and mobility, primarily through the use of the indoor rowing machine interspersed with intervals off the rower.  Students move between indoor rowing machines and strength training segments, sometimes in rapid succession.  Instructors focus on proper rowing technique and safe body strengthening exercises that supplement the rhythmic flow of the rowing stroke.

Row On Austin’s owner Teri Tyler likens, “Rowing to a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”  She explains that research shows that rowing, due to the combination of natural, low impact motions, burns ten to fifteen percent more calories than cycling—the next best calorie burner—at the same level of exertion.  At a normal rowing speed, the stationary rowing-machine will burn an average of 600 calories per hour.

indoor rowing class

Used with permission by Row On Austin

An additional benefit of this high-output exercise is that rowing puts minimal stress on the joints.  Without straining the joints, rowing conditions many different muscles and joints making it ideal for anyone, at any age, to take up the sport.  Even those individuals with arthritis, osteoporosis and other mobility issues.

Benefits of Rowing

  • A full body workout at any age
  • Low impact, high intensity exercise
  • Strengthens muscle and bone
  • Increases metabolism


  1. Sowers, J Clin Endocrinol Metab: 2007 (92): 895-901
  2. Franklin RM et al. Metab Clin and Exper 2009;59:311-15