Cardio vs. Weight Training
If you are like most people, you know that there is a difference between cardio exercise and exercising with weights. Cardio exercise involves getting your heart rate up through physical movement that almost always involves the legs. Alternatively, exercising with weights involves the lifting of heavy objects. Since weightlifting also works the heart and lungs (cardio), many people are referring to cardio as aerobic training as a more accurate moniker. Not sure which one is best for your fitness goals? Take a closer look at the nuances of each style of exercise.
Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise
An aerobic process requires oxygen while anaerobic exercises do not. Anaerobic exercises tend to be those that are rather brief in length yet require considerable power. Aerobic activities require sustained effort across a longer period of time. These processes are broken down into three different types of energy systems that often overlap throughout the duration of the exercise.
Cardio is comparatively more interesting than weightlifting. You can get your blood pumping with a run, fitness class, hike, swimming, cycling, martial arts and so on. It provides a high caloric burn, allows you to steadily build up your stamina, promotes proper internal organ function, suppresses appetite and can be performed in a social setting. Those who incorporate anaerobic components like interval training will find that their cardio sessions actually enhance their weightlifting ability.
Cardio seems quite innocent yet it often results in injuries. Runners, basketball players, cyclists and other athletes who perform extensive cardio often experience a number of lower body injuries. Also, many people make the mistake of performing excessive cardio as an excuse to eat larger than normal portions of food.
Lifting heavy objects is fun and challenging. Weights help people gain muscle mass as well as muscle/bone strength. Weightlifting is commonly favored by obese people who are trying to get back into shape but can't perform traditional cardio for a substantial period of time. Weights are also ideal for those who are new to physical fitness and lack the stamina to perform sustained exercises. Even the elderly can benefit from lifting weights as it helps them maintain their independence and avoid becoming too frail.
Studies also show that consistent weight training has a considerable benefit on an individual's mindset as it increases the odds of dietary changes that promote fat loss. Add in the fact that weightlifting serves to strengthen and harden the body to protect against injury and it is easy to see why it has become such a popular exercise. However, those who lift weights should understand that around 2,500 calories of food must be ingested to build up a single pound of muscle. If performed properly, weightlifting can lead to a fortified body as well as new friendships. Plenty of people have established bonds with others through socializing in the gym weight room.
Ask those who have lifted weights for decades and some will testify that they wished they had not lifted so much so frequently. Weightlifting puts considerable stress on the body, sometimes resulting in muscle strains, muscle tears, etc. It takes a lot of effort to lift heavy weights yet the numbers of calories burned is nowhere near as much as that of traditional cardio exercise. Other weightlifting drawbacks range from trainers who attempt to create dependent clients to the weight room's intimidation factor. The bottom line is that you can't lift for hours at a time due to the considerable amount of stress placed on the body. This is precisely why so many people swear by a combination of cardio and weightlifting.
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