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Strength Training and Cardio for Everyone…Yes…You Too!

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One of the biggest hurdles most people face in making exercise a permanent part of their life is simply a lack of information. Most of us honestly don’t know where to begin. What types of exercises should we do? What’s the payoff for exercising on a regular basis? Few people will incorporate exercise into their life while questions like these remain unanswered.

That’s why in what follows we will inform you on the two basic types of exercises and how each type affects your body. This information will help you develop a fitness plan that suits your needs, so that you can begin to make steps toward a healthier life.

A Quick Overview of Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise

There are two categories of exercises: aerobic and anaerobic. It’s easy to get these two types confused, but here’s a good way to remember the difference between the two: aerobic simply means “with oxygen,” and anaerobic means “without oxygen.”

Aerobic exercise involves an extended period of physical exertion at a relatively low intensity. Aerobic workouts usually take the form of walking, jogging, cycling, dancing, and elliptical training, just to name a few examples. Anaerobic exercises, on the other hand, require short periods of intense energy output. In practical terms, aerobic exercise typically takes the form of weight training, but things like sprinting and short-distance speed swimming are also considered anaerobic exercises because they are high in intensity and short in duration.

Not only do these two categories involve different types of exercise, they also have different effects on your body. Another name for aerobic exercise is cardio exercise, because aerobic training works out your cardiovascular system. In other words, aerobic exercise makes the heart muscle stronger. Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, makes the skeletal muscles stronger as well as your cardiovascular system. The bottom line is both aerobic and anaerobic exercises are important to implement into your lifestyle since both provide different health benefits.

Health Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

The major benefit of aerobic exercise is that it improves cardio respiratory fitness and respiratory function. In other words, it makes your heart stronger and more efficient. Just as it becomes easier to lift a heavy load when you’ve been working out consistently, it will be easier to jog certain distances or go up a flight of stairs without getting winded because your heart is stronger.

Specifically, aerobic exercise helps the heart to pump out more oxygen and blood with each beat. Ultimately, an aerobic training program will decrease your heart rate and blood pressure because your heart will work more efficiently. More importantly, cardio exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, which according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the leading cause of death in the United States1. Aerobic exercise decreases your risk of heart disease beause it2:

  • increases HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
  • Decreases total body fat
  • Reduces insulin needs
  • Improves glucose tolerance
  • And reduces blood platelet aggregation making it less likely for a blood clot to form

Other benefits include decreased levels of anxiety and depression, enhanced physical function and independent living in older individuals, enhanced feelings of wellbeing, and better performance of work, recreational, and sport activities3.

Health Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise

Weight training is not just for muscles heads. On the contrary, it has numerous health benefits for the average person. The most obvious one is increased muscle strength and endurance. Not only will you get a nicer physique (always a good thing), but stronger muscles will also allow you to perform daily activities efficiently and with a reduced chance of injury. What’s more, research has shown that greater muscle strength and size increases bone strength, helping to prevent bone fractures, especially for women at risk for osteoporosis4.

There is a common misconception that weight training increases muscle size but doesn’t burns calories. Actually, not only does strength training improve muscle power, it reduces body fat and burns calories as well. It’s simple physiology. As you lift weights, your muscles need additional energy, and so your metabolism will convert more calories into energy in order to help your muscles during your workout and in the post-workout recuperation period.

Yet most women avoid strength training because they think it will make them too bulky. That is a myth. Men and women have different physiological compositions, and so weight training effects each sex differently. Men can gain significant muscle mass from strength training because of their high testosterone levels. Women, on the other hand, cannot bulk up like men because they don’t have enough testosterone5. The women that do gain a lot of muscle mass from weight lifting are usually taking steroids.

Where Do You Go from Here?

Getting the recommended amount of physical activity everyday is essential to your overall health. And it’s relatively easy to do. The bottom line is this: make sure that you get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week, and 20 to 30 minutes of muscle strengthening exercise two days a week at minimum.

Physical activity is an investment for your body, so it’s important to give your body the fitness attention it deserves. Now that you’ve been educated on the different types of exercises, the next step is putting this knowledge into practice. Since you know what is needed to get your heart pumping and your muscles engaged, now set up an exercise program for yourself with a combination of strength training and cardio exercises. In the long run, you will live a longer, more satisfying life.



References

1 Leading Causes of Death. (2011, May 23). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm

2 Fletcher, G. F., Balady, G., & Blair, S. (1996). Statement on Exercise: Benefits and Recommendations for Physical Activity Programs for All Americans. Circulation, 857-862.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1996). Physical activity and health: a report of the Surgeon General.Atlanta,GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

4 Cussler, E., Lohman, T., & Going, S. (2003). Weight lifted in strength training predicts bone change in postmenopausal women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 10-17.

5 Baechle, T. R., & Earle, R. W. (Eds.). (2008). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3rd ed.).Champaign,IL: Human Kinetics.

DISCLAIMER

The content provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Our content is not medical advice and you should seek a licensed physician or health professional regarding all health issues. WEIGHTLOSS.US takes no responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, or application of medication which results from reading this site.