It seems this has been a debate for the past 20 years among fitness fanatics and even the mildly active. Which type of exercising is better: cardio or strength training? Moderate exercise is recommended by every doctor and most medical aid schemes but various studies have been done to try and pinpoint which of these two methods is most beneficial.
Cardiovascular exercise or cardio gets your heart rate up, increases your lung capacity and pumps more oxygen into your blood. It also increases bone density and reduces stress, sleeplessness and risk of heart disease. Cardio assists the release of endorphins –those feel-good hormones which temporarily treat anxiety and depression.
Strength training makes your muscles more strong and powerful. You can use weights or your own body mass: do sit-ups and push-ups, for example. This method will help you lose weight and keep it off longer and it helps to maintain bone health and muscle mass. Recent studies found that weight training even boosts your immune system.
Too much cardio vascular exercise can damage your heart, increase stress hormones and inflammation and it often leads to over-training. If you overdo cardio you risk atrial fibrillation – a disease that can only be treated by a pacemaker; in fact, some people need one before the age of 40! Atrial fibrillation is when the heart’s two small upper chambers (atria) don’t beat the way they should and instead beats are irregular and too fast.
If not done properly, you can get seriously injured whilst training with weights. Starting out with weights that are too heavy can tear your muscles or damage your joints. It can also hurt your back severely if you don’t have the correct posture. If you are going to lift weights without consulting a doctor, consider getting a hospital plan quote because another risk of being too ambitious with the size of your weights is the risk of dropping them on your feet, chest, legs or even worse – your face!
The balanced approach
Both of these methods are highly beneficial and the ideal choice would be to adopt a 50% cardio and 50% strength training ratio. Most health practitioners agree that with a healthy diet and a variety of exercises will have you in shape and healthy in no time, for a long time.