Benefits of Cardio & Strength Training
When you talk to exercise enthusiasts, you come across those who swear by cardio and those who prefer only to lift weights. Choosing one or the other may be tempting because it saves time, especially if you have a busy schedule. Regardless of whether you are focusing on losing weight, improving your health, or maintaining a high level of overall fitness, both cardio and strength training provide benefits. The best home workout regimen offers a good mix of both types. Here is an overview of the benefits of each type of training.
Cardiovascular exercise is any movement that increases your heart rate and increases blood circulation in your body. For overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity five times per week or 25 minutes of vigorous activity three times per week. Of course, cardio is great for your heart, but it does so much more including:
- Increasing your metabolism. Cardio exercise speeds up the rate of many processes in your body, including the speed at which your body metabolizes energy. An increased metabolism aids with maintaining and losing weight.
- Improving your hormone balance. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. These hormones help control anxiety and depression, as well decreasing appetite, and giving you more energy.
- Increases your overall quality of life. Cardio training increases your brain function, so you think better and avoid Alzheimer’s. It reduces fatigue as your body becomes accustomed to movement—after all, bodies were made to move—and helps combat pain from arthritis and aging. Cardio also makes your sex life better by increasing sex drive in women and reducing the likelihood of erectile dysfunction in men.
- Improving sleep. Those who engage in cardio training fall asleep easier, unless they exercise too close to bedtime. Additionally, cardio training makes it easier for people to fall into deep REM sleep. During REM, you sleep hard and have vivid dreams.
Strength training is any exercise that works your muscles by using resistance. Experts recommend doing strength training exercises for all of your major muscle groups at least two times per week. Although bodybuilders and weightlifters may seek to bulk up, the benefits of strength training go much deeper than increasing the size of one’s quads or biceps:
- Decreases abdominal fat. Recent studies report that strength training does more for blasting belly fat than cardio. Scholars from Harvard and the University of Boston found that men who did strength training for 20 minutes per day were less likely to gain belly fat than those who spent an equal about of time doing cardio. A similar study at the University of Pennsylvania reported similar results for women who do strength training at least two times per week.
- Increases cardiovascular health. Both cardio and strength training are great for the heart because they lower blood pressure and improve triglyceride levels. But strength training in particular, has a positive effect on HDL cholesterol, the good kind of cholesterol.
- Preventing diseases. Like cardio, strength training helps prevent disease. Lifting weights can help those with chronic conditions – such as arthritis and Type 2 diabetes – control their conditions. Strength training also attacks belly fat which is linked to cancer, therefore reducing cancer risk. Studies also reveal that low muscle mass results in less favorable chemotherapy outcomes in cancer patients. Strength training also prevents bone loss and reduces the possibility of osteoporosis.
- Lowered risk of injuries. Muscles need to be strong to prevent inflammation and injury during movement. Strength training makes muscles stronger, but also strengthens joints and increases bone mass so injuries don’t occur.
If you have questions about cardio or strength training, contact Fitness Gallery for free advice. We can help you find the right equipment to develop a balanced home workout. And to make sure your home workout is effective, we even provide a free in-home personal training session with the purchase of any new treadmill, elliptical trainer, or home gym.