Is it a cardio day, or strength day – it’s the age-old question in the fitness world. Before getting into the benefits of each, it is important to distinguish the difference between the two exercises.
Strength is an anaerobic activity while cardio is aerobic. Anaerobic exercises break down glucose for energy without heavily relying on oxygen, while aerobic activities use oxygen to increase breathing and heart rate.
Why Cardio? Cardio is important because it improves heart health and endurance by boosting aerobic capacity and allowing your heart and lungs to move oxygen through your body at a more efficient rate. It additionally helps you to burn more calories during a workout. For example, a 155-pound person could burn around 112 calories doing weight lifting for 30 minutes compared to burning 372 calories by doing cardio over the same time period. Research from Mayo Clinic suggests that getting “at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week” can help you achieve your fitness goals. Finally, cardio leads to quicker weight loss because cardio directly burns fat.
Why Weights? One reason why lifting weights is beneficial is that people can gain lean muscle mass. Weight training also allows you to continue burning calories throughout the entire day and increases resting metabolic rate in both genders. According to research from the Mayo Clinic, “a single set of 12 to 15 repetitions with the proper weight can build muscle efficiently in most people and can be as effective as three sets of the same exercise.” Finally, weight training increases bone density and also helps support joints, which in turn reduces injury risk.
Why both? It is important to not just do cardio or strength because combining the two allows you to lose fat while simultaneously gaining muscle. Additionally, it will lead to improvements in heart and mental health.