Cardio + Strength
The best exercise for you is the one that you actually like and will do. You have to find workouts that keep you coming back and motivating you. For some, they find comfort in repetition and structured routine...others might be more motivated by changing it up frequently. Whatever works for you, focus on that. Don’t play the comparison game with everyone around you, because you aren’t going to see the same results as them if it doesn’t speak to you. Within finding exercise that works for you, it is important to find a balance of cardio and strength. Independently, they still have so much benefit but the combination is where you’re going to see your results whether it be speed, endurance, weight loss, muscle or just overall health.
Cardio directly impacts heart and lung function. It improves the ability to deliver oxygen to tissues and use it; this means that it enhances your body’s ability to deliver blood and oxygen to your muscles, strengthening your heart and lungs. This process builds up your endurance through training your muscles to better utilize oxygen. Consistent cardio can lower blood pressure, body fat, regulate blood sugar levels and even reduce inflammation. Pretty amazing, hey? They key is consistency...you don’t have to run a marathon, or even run for that matter. Some examples of cardio include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, hiking, dancing, rowing, stairs, and jumping rope. You can get creative, and again pick something that sparks a bit of joy for you.
On the other hand, strength training will help you to build muscles that support you in your everyday life, boost your metabolism and improve your body’s ability to burn fat. It can increase your overall strength, tone your muscles, boost your bone density, improve balance, better your posture and even reduce pain in the lower back and joints. It’s pretty incredible how strengthening specifically your core can actually improve your quality of life. It’s definitely worth having some muscle mass...and muscle weighs more than fat so don’t get fixated on numbers. It’s about how you feel in your body, not how your mind feels about numbers. Compare yourself to yourself, not to others. Your body, your journey, your happiness.
So, piecing it together now, you can see that both cardio and strength training independently are great, but obviously I’m here to tell you how the combination works. Varying your workouts can not only help keep exercise interesting, but it may help you reach your fitness goals a little bit quicker. The cardio that improves your oxygen and blood delivery to muscle and tissue in turn enhances your ability to use those muscles in strength training. You will be able to lift heavier and build muscle faster. If you’re building muscle faster, you’re also burning fat faster. Strengthening your now more efficient muscle, heart included, is going to improve your endurance and power. Strengthening your core is going to enhance your balance and posture which is going to help you with your stride and lessen your risk of injury. If you have balanced strong muscles and core, you are less likely to compensate and rely on only your big muscle groups. You will be surprised how not sore you are after long cardio sessions if you’re able to rely on all of your muscle groups rather than a few. Cardio and strength compliment each other and crossover to improve your ability in both. You will overall feel more fit and healthy going in to everyday life, and that’s always the ultimate goal. Balance is beautiful, and you will truly feel like a million bucks if you can find yours.
*Just for reference, I do cardio Monday, Wednesday, Friday and strength on Tuesday, Thursday while I’m not working. When I go back to regular shift work, I just alternate cardio and strength on my days off. If I only have a few days off, I always favor cardio because it’s my jam. Do what works for you! Some people also train them on the same day, and if you’re doing this trainers generally recommend doing your strength before cardio so you get an effective strength train in. Again, you will find what works for you, and just stick with that! You got this!!
All my love,