Top photo credit: PowerPhysique
We discussed the benefits of strength training last week but traditionally, cardio has been the go-to exercise to get your fat blasted and your metabolism revved. Do these claims hold up?
The short answer is yes. Apart from controlling your diet, cardio is a very effective method in achieving weight loss. A long and fairly intensive cardio session could lead you to burning 500 – 800 calories, and a pound of body fat is burned for every 3500 calories expended. Strength training typically only burns half that calory (without taking into account the after-exercise metabolic effects). However, typically, strength training is more useful in building up metabolism over the long term through the building of muscles, whereas cardio’s speeding up of metabolism is usually limited to the 24 hours immediately after the workout session.
But what makes cardio imperative is its contribution to improving cardiovascular health (duh, thank you for pointing out, Sherlock). Cardiovascular basically refers to anything to do with your heart. Your heart is arguably the most important organ of your entire body, acting as the powerhouse for every drop of blood that travels throughout your circulatory system. Cardio enhances your heart health by increasing its capacity to use oxygen through increasing the size of its pumping chambers. That means your heart doesn’t need to beat as fast to deliver the same amount of blood. This is why a slower resting heart beat is usually a sign of a healthy heart. Regular cardio can reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer.
So, coming to the essential topic in question, should you opt for cardio or strength training? The textbook answer would be to do a mix of both in order to get the best of both worlds. But for whatever reasons you could only do one, it would greatly depend on what your objective of exercising is. If you want to lose weight quickly, cardio is the way to go. If you want to look fit and want to improve your overall aesthetics, strength training would come in handier. Whichever mode of exercise you ultimately go for, bear in mind that diet plays a critical role in health. However much exercising will not offset the adverse effects of a poorly maintained diet, and that includes drinking enough water! Water has been proven clinically to increase the rate at which the body burns fat, and promotes the breakdown and elimination of fat cells, amongst many other health benefits!