By: Amanda Thompson
Whether you are new to exercise or need to change up your routine, knowing what exercise will aid in achieving your fitness goals is a great place to start. Cardio and strength training provide a full body workout for improving overall fitness. The most common questions asked when starting or changing your routine are:
What exercise is best for me?
The best exercise is something you will do. You are more likely to commit and be consistent with your workout if you are doing something you enjoy.
How many days a week should I work out?
The CDC recommend adults exercise for 150 minutes each week - roughly 20 minutes a day 7 days a week (3). You can break this into longer sessions of 30-60 minutes or do smaller more intense intervals of 5-10 minutes of training throughout your day (3). The goal is to perform some type of activity most days of the week.
What type of workout should I do?
Cardio exercise is anything that increases your heartrate for a long period of time. Activity of 10-30 minutes is recommended to get the most benefit (5). Cardio activity burns a lot of calories at once and is a great way to lose weight (5), but also has many other health benefits such as:
· Improved cardiovascular and respiratory health
· Improved sleep
· Improved blood flow which lowers blood pressure
· Improved fat metabolism allowing you to burn more fat during your workouts
· Increased energy
· Lowers stress
Cardio exercises to consider: walking, running, cycling / spin classes, swimming, jump rope, kickboxing, rowing, Zumba, dance classes, basketball, soccer, tennis etc.
Interval training is a more intense cardio training. You are pushing your intensity for a minute or two then back off for 2-10 minutes and repeat as many times as you like. Interval training is more effective for weight loss than continuous moderate exercise over long distances (2). It allows the exercise sessions to be brief meaning you can squeeze in a 5-minute workout and reap the benefits on those days you have a packed schedule (2).
How to add interval training:
· Jog for 4 minutes add 30 seconds of all-out sprint, recover and jog at your previous pace for 4 minutes. Repeat the 4 min / 30 sec interval for as long as you desire to workout.
· Run for 4 minutes and increase the incline for 30 seconds, return to no incline. Repeat the 4 min / 30 sec interval for as long as you desire to workout.
Strength training makes you stronger and builds muscle endurance by using some type of resistance against your body. (4). The benefits of strength training include (4):
· Building lean muscle
· Reduction of body fat
· Burning calories more efficiently – you will continue to burn calories even after you have finished exercising
· Improved flexibility, posture, balance, and stability
Start with exercises that target multiple muscle groups to get the most benefit for your time.
· Squats and lunges – work the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes
· Pushups – work the pectorals, shoulders, and triceps
· Crunches – work the entire abdominal area
· Bent Rows – work the major muscles of the upper back and biceps
For more on how to perform these moves correctly click here.
Both cardio and strength training will aid in weight loss. Both forms of exercise provide benefits beyond weight loss leading to improved functioning of the body. Consistency endures over the long run; be sure to choose a workout that is fun for you and doesn’t feel like ‘work’. Remember to go easy as you begin your new workout routine. The more you ease into the routine the less likely you are to suffer from fatigue and injury. Don’t underestimate the power of rest days aiming for at least 2 days of rest per week.