Summer is almost over, and not all of us had that perfect summer body. That doesn’t mean we can’t get a jump start on next summer’s body. They always say there is no time like the present!
You want to get in shape, but you’re not sure if you need to take a Zumba class, or get a gym membership and learn about weight lifting. Cardio or weight training, which is better? Actually, they are both great ways of getting fit and healthy. It all depends on your fitness goals, and exactly what you want to accomplish.
There are benefits to both aerobic and anaerobic forms of exercise, and both also have their down side. So, which one is right for you? Here are some facts about both forms of exercise, to help you make a decision.
Weight Training: The Up Side
Weight training, or strength training, is designed to build muscle tone, increase strength to help avoid injury as we age, lose weight and, for some, add bulk. The advantages of strength training include:
1. Increased muscle tone
2. Increased strength
3. Defined muscles/better body composition/increased size
4. Strengthens bones
5. Any age can participate
Although these advantages are what many are looking for, strength training is not without its disadvantages.
Weight Training: The Down Side
As with any form of exercise, there are some things you need to watch out for, especially as a beginner. These include:
1. Expensive (gym membership and/or personal coaching is usually required)
2. Increased risk of injury from using improper form
3. Time consuming to maintain
4. Less of a caloric burn than with intense aerobic activity
5. Can lead to unhealthy behavior (eating disorders, steroid/supplement use)
Cardio Exercise: The Up Side
Aerobic or cardiovascular (“cardio”) exercise, is designed to build endurance, strengthen the heart, and help with weight loss. The advantages of this type of exercise include:
1. Increased oxygen to the bloodstream/body
2. Increased metabolism for up to 24 hours
3. Enhances weight loss efforts by lowering body fat percentage
4. Increased cardiovascular endurance
5. Any age can participate
Although these advantages are what many are looking for, cardiovascular exercise is also not without its disadvantages.
Cardio Exercise: The Down Side
Aerobic or cardio exercise is simple, and almost anyone can participate with little to no investment required. A good pair of running shoes may be all you need to get started. However, this form of exercise also has its disadvantages. They include:
1. Increased fall risk when done outside (due to uneven terrain)
2. Can be hard on knee and ankle joints
3. May develop bone spurs, shin splints, or plantar fasciitis
4. Could get monotonous
5. Does not provide definition or increased size weight training does
Cardio can take many forms, from a simple walk in the park, to a bike ride or spin class, running, hiking, dancing, playing football or soccer, skiing, even swimming qualifies as an aerobic workout.
Weight training or cardio? There are benefits and dangers associated with any form of exercise, so it really comes down to assessing the risks and deciding which one works with your lifestyle and fitness goals.
No matter how you look at it, any kind of exercise is better than no exercise at all, and when you find a form that works for you and one that you enjoy, it can add an increased level of fitness to your life as well as an increased positive self-image, and that is always healthy.