Strength Training vs. Cardio: Which Form Of Exercise Is Better?

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or you’re focusing on keeping a regular fitness regimen, one of the biggest hurdles is determining what method of exercise is going to do the most for you. Each has its own merits, and any form of exercise will be beneficial for your overall health. Learn the key differences in these areas and you may be able to come to a decision on what is best for you.

Calorie Burning

According to various scientific studies about how many calories certain activities burn, you typically burn more if you weigh more no matter what activity you’re doing. For someone who weighs 160 pounds, they will burn about 250 calories for every 30 minutes of jogging at a moderate speed. If the same person weight trained for a 30-minute session, they would burn between 130 and 220 calories.

Research has shown that a weight training session can burn more calories in the hours following the session when compared to a cardio session. This is because weight training builds muscle, and muscle burns more calories at rest. To generate a high post-calorie burn from a cardio session, you would have to do an activity for a longer duration or a more intense activity like sprinting. If you’re doing more intense activities like that during the sun’s peak hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., you will want to take precautions like wearing proper sunglasses and staying hydrated so that your overall health doesn’t suffer.

Weight Loss

For many, the goal of exercise is to lose weight and the choice between different methods will be highly dependent on which method is more effective for that. According to a study at Duke University that compared the effects of cardio and weight training on people who were overweight, the cardio group lost about four pounds while the weight training group gained two pounds. The latter group gained weight because of added muscle mass.

While cardio’s help in losing fat and muscle can give you a smaller body, weight training is more effective at reshaping your body. For those looking to enhance their body’s natural curves or achieve a more toned look, weight training is more effective. Lifting weights will also raise your metabolic rate, which promotes more fat burning and greater definition as the fat disappears.

Other Health Benefits

Exercise isn’t just for those looking to shed some pounds but also for anyone looking to live a longer and healthier life. Compared to strength training, cardio has a bigger influence on cardiovascular health as your heart and lungs are more engaged throughout the workout. You can also decrease the risk of chronic illnesses with just two and a half hours per week of aerobic physical activity, such as bicycling, running, and swimming.

According to the co-author of the Duke University study, Cris Slentz, PhD, weight training is still important for maintaining your body’s strength and being functionally fit for daily life. It is also a great exercise for anyone who needs to strengthen certain muscle groups after an injury or trauma. In people who suffer from lower back pain, 80% reported alleviated pain after engaging in strength training.

So what does all of this research and information really mean? You’ll see health benefits when you commit to any form of exercise and you’ll likely see the most when you do a combination of cardio and weight training. In the Duke University study, another group engaged in a combination of sessions and while they spent twice as long at the gym, they lost the most weight and added lean mass.

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