There has long been a debate about which exercise type is better. Is cardio the gold standard? Or, do the benefits of resistance training far outweigh those of cardio?
While both forms of exercise provide huge benefits for your health, the choice depends entirely on your goals.
So, how about we examine a few common goals and evaluate the pros and cons?
Let’s say your specific health goal is weight loss:
For years we’ve been told that cardio is the answer to weight loss.
Well, according to a study reported in the Journal of Applied Physiology this still holds true.
The study examined the results of 119 previously sedentary individuals over a period of 8 months. Some participants performed cardio only, others did strictly resistance training and a third group did a combination of both.
The cardio-only group lost the most amount of weight (4 lbs.), while the resistance training group gained weight (2 lbs.). Although this additional weight was, in fact, lean muscle mass, it didn’t result in any additional fat loss, over the course of the study.
Now let’s say your goal is overall better health and longevity:
While cardiovascular exercise is beneficial for heart health and disease prevention, when it comes to longevity, resistance training is the clear winner.
Dr. Robert Schreiber, physician-in-chief at Hebrew SeniorLife and an instructor in medicine at the Harvard Medical School, states that, “Just doing aerobic exercise is not adequate. Unless you are doing strength training, you will become weaker and less functional.”
The average 30-year-old will lose one quarter of her/his muscle strength by age 70 and half of it by age 90.
HOW MUCH CARDIO DO I NEED TO DO IN GENERAL?
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should aim for 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise each week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week or a combination of both moderate and vigorous exercise.
Choose from brisk walking, running, power walking, cycling, swimming, aerobic dancing or cross country skiing — the choice is yours. Aim for three 50-minute sessions (or divide it into shorter more frequent sessions) of any activity that gets your heart rate up. Break a sweat, too!
SO HOW MUCH RESISTANCE TRAINING IS ENOUGH?
Harvard Health Publishing (Harvard Medical School) states that we should aim to train all the major muscles of the body 2-3 times per week.
Regular resistance training sessions will not only increase your overall strength but allow you to do everyday activities with greater ease.
AND, DO YOU REALLY NEED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN CARDIO AND RESISTANCE TRAINING?
While the study reported in the Journal of Applied Physiology did favor cardio for weight loss, the third test group in the same study did show interesting results.
This group did a combination of both cardio and weights, resulting in the best change in overall body composition.
This combination of the two types of physical training helped participants lose fat AND gain lean muscle mass – a key factor for maintaining strength AND longevity.
THE BOTTOM LINE ON WHICH EXERCISE TYPE IS BETTER
In today’s busy world, it can be difficult to find time to fit in exercise at all. Right? While your specific health goals will play a big part in choosing the type of workouts you do, the most important thing is that you’re staying active consistently.
So aim to exercise for 150 minutes or more every week, eat a healthful and balanced diet and you’ll be well on your way to feeling healthier and stronger. You may also be interested in reading the following blog posts related to exercise: Spot Toning: Possibility or Myth? and You Can Handle It.
Here at Feed Yourself Fully, we want to know what type of exercise you do and why. We’d be so pleased to have you share your comments on which exercise type is better with all of us in the comment box below.
Lastly, because nutrition has such a huge impact on your performance and your goals, it’s important to fuel up on the good stuff before a workout. And who doesn’t want some pre-workout energy? Scroll on down for a quick ‘n easy pre-workout snack bar recipe that you’ll love!
No-Bake Pre-Workout Snack Bars
3/4 cup of Medjool Dates
1 cup of nuts (any kind will do, OR you can substitute sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds for a nut-free version)
1 pinch of sea salt
Optional: add some dried fruit such as cranberries or raisins to change up the flavor.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until it forms a sticky dough. Line an 8-inch pan with plastic wrap.
Then pour the dough, and press down firmly until it fills the pan.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into squares.
Serve and enjoy!