We’ve all been there. We want to start exercising and the first thing that comes to mind is YEY (or ney for some!) CARDIO!
Well, let me let you in on a not-so-much-of-a-secret: cardio is great but what form of exercise you choose, depends on your goals and also on your likes!
Both, weight training and cardiovascular exercise bring diverse benefits to our health
So it is important we do both.
Let’s start with cardio
You may have heard or read this before: cardio can bring enormous health benefits to the body, like:
Put simply, cardio exercise will improve your overall health and quality of life.
Now, when we think of cardio, most of us immediately gravitate towards running. And if we don’t like running or have any joint issues, chronic pain or injuries, we may believe nothing can be done and that’s the end of it.
However, I believe we have to do what is best for our bodies and minds. Some of us are no good with running. Maybe we just find it plain boring, maybe it hurts our knees.
And some of us will absolutely love it, put on those headphones, get the music pumping and go out. Feel the breeze on your face, feel the adrenaline rush, and, simply, enjoy it.
So if I don’t run, what’s next?
Well, depending on who you ask, you will be told there is nothing like it for cardio. Others may suggest power walking, cycling or even swimming.
Truth be told, cardio can be done in many ways. And I feel the best alternative is the one you enjoy doing and can stick to.
Cardio is all around you! Take the stairs, walk your dog, play with your kids, dance it off, ride a bike or those roller-skates you've got at the bottom of your closet.
In the long run (pun intended), what brings progress is consistency. The type of workout you do will yield different results, but the results will only come if you stick to the workout.
According to the ASCM’s (American college of sports medicine) recommendations, aerobic exercise should be done 3 to 5 days a week, for 20 to 60 minutes at a medium to high intensity, like a Zumba or indoor cycling class, a light jog or power walking.
From experience, mine and my clients', if this feels too much at once for you, then you can split it into bouts of 10 minutes.
And if you haven’t exercised for a long time or have never exercised at all, you can start with 20-30 minutes of lower intensity exercise, like walking, which you can also split in shorter intervals through the day.
How much you actually decide to do and what activity, depends of what you can fit into your life, your goals and priorities. But, when possible, try and do some form of cardio, hopefully, one that you enjoy!
On to the big leagues: Strength Training
Moving on to the lesser known, hopefully soon to be, your best friend (if I manage to put into words, what I know and experience!)
What do these scenarios have in common?
Have you guessed it?
The common denominator for all cases is that they will all need to get into strength training in some form or other.
Wait, what? You heard it right.
There will be differences between each of their plans as they all have different goals.
But strength training, like weight lifting or calisthenics (and working with body weight) will bring great benefits overall.
Some benefits you'll fin in the literature include:
No size fits all, so here are a few alternatives for strength training:
Once again, what you specifically do, will be directly linked to your goals, what you have access to and your preferences
This varies according to your goals. Strength training can be used for muscle hypertrophy (increase in muscle size) or to work on muscle strength, power or muscle endurance.
But in general, we look at 2 to 3 resistance training sessions per week, working on 5 to 15 total sets per muscle group, in between those sessions. (The Huberman Lab podcast)
There's a lot more detail and nuances to this that do not fit in this general blog post, and you're welcome to nerd out listening to that full episode of Huberman's Lab.
Just To re -cap and leave you with a simple message: