Top photo credit: WatchFit
Cardio or Strength Training: Which should I do? (Part 1 of 2)
It’s a common dilemma faced by everybody. In a stressful society when 24 hours a day seem highly insufficient, when getting enough sleep alone feels like a task often out of reach, sneaking in an hour of exercise comes with great opportunity costs. And so when you’re finally able to do so, you find yourself at a crossroad and asking yourself, “Should I spend this precious hour jogging on the trails or hitting the weights at the gym?”
To answer this question, let’s visit some of the basics of the two forms of exercises. We’ll begin with strength training this week.
Strength training is great firstly because it helps you build muscle, and the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is and the more calories you burn at rest (i.e. even when you’re not active). But the exact number of calories you burn with each extra pound of muscle vary according to different studies, and could range from a whopping 50 calories to as few as 7 calories. A typical person gains 3 to 5 pounds of muscle over a period of a few months, so the total caloric effect could amount to being able to consume an entire additional light meal, or just a few potato chips. Whatever the number is, what you should bear in mind though is that as with any exercising you should always be looking towards the long term, and the accumulative effects of even just a few dozen calories a day could build up to thousands of calories a year which translates to many pounds of weight loss.
There are numerous other benefits to strength training, from helping you tone muscles, thus improving your appearance and overall confidence, to improving balance, coordination as well as posture. If you’re hitting middle age, bone deterioration is inevitable, and muscle strengthening has been shown to increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
But is strength training necessarily better than cardio exercises? We’ll find out next week by delving into the benefits of cardio!