Cardio is the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of exercise: jogging, swimming, biking and the like. Moving more is the most fundamental goal when people aim to change their weight, their body, their lifestyle, and moving more = cardio.
Cardio is also responsible for the lovely rush of endorphins sometimes called a runner’s high, which, even for the more casual exerciser, has major psychological and emotional benefits. But as any serious athlete will tell you, cardio is only one part of the fitness equation. Strength training is just as important as cardio, though it is more difficult for the non-athlete to grasp. We all learned how to run as toddlers, but we have to be taught how to lift weights correctly.
Don’t let the intimidation factor keep you from making strength training a part of your regular routine. Whether you’re just starting a new fitness regimen, or are looking to take your fitness to the next level, a closer look at strength training may be just what you need.
Once upon a time, strength training meant one thing: weight lifting. And weight lifting was something only men did. Luckily for women (and men!), neither of those things are true any more. Strength training is any exercise that helps specific muscles become stronger or more powerful. Lifting weights does fit the bill, but so do Pilates and yoga, TRX, and many other training methods that use body weight resistance.
Strengthening your muscles helps you be healthier in many ways. It helps increase your metabolic rate (which means you burn more calories faster). It may or may not help you lose pounds on the scale, but does change the shape of the pounds you keep. Strength training can also help with every-day worries like improving your posture, or reducing the strain on joints (when muscles surrounding a joint are stronger, they can share the shock ordinarily absorbed solely by the joint).
In the end, the best answer to the question “cardio or strength training?” is Both!
The Simon Family JCC can help you find your perfect mix, whether with a personal trainer, a custom routine developed through our orientation, group training, or through one of the many group exercise classes, like Pilates, Piloxing, Les Mills’ BodyPump, Deep H2O Fitness, or Tabata, that integrates both cardio and strength training moves.