When it comes to planning our workouts, many of us may wonder what roles cardio and strength training play in helping us optimize the physical and mental benefits of exercising.
We know cardio exercise — including running, jogging, swimming, biking, and brisk walking — are all great ways to get our hearts pumping and those endorphins flowing. In comparison, strength training is an equally important component of a well-balanced workout regime. This can include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, and utilizing our body weight for resistance by doing push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, and leg squats. But what combination is best? We’ll get our answer by taking a closer look at some important facts.
Maximize Health Benefits
The American Heart Association stresses that any type of physical activity is good if it makes our muscles work more than usual. The hardest working muscle, our heart, benefits from a workout just like the other muscles in our bodies. The benefits are numerous, and regular physical activity helps:
- Lower blood pressure
- Decrease LDL "bad" cholesterol in our blood
- Improve blood sugar
- Reduce feelings of stress
- Control/Maintain body weight
- Improve the quality of sleep
- Improve memory
The American Heart Association recommends that we also include strength training as an important part of our physical activity at least twice a week.
Strength training comes with its own set of benefits and will help to:
- Maintain strong bones
- Increase muscle mass and keep joints flexible
- Boost metabolism to optimize benefits from cardio activities
- Increase flexibility and balance as we age
Medical expert Kerry J. Stewart, Ed.D, Director of Clinical and Research Exercise Psychology at the General Clinical Research Center, John Hopkins Bayview, agrees that general wellness guidelines call for a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training. Says Stewart, “Try to get in a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling, or swimming at least five days a week. Do moderate weightlifting to tone muscles and build muscle endurance twice a week, or frequently enough to cover the major muscle groups.”
Stewart notes that, along with the American Heart Association, the American College of Sports Medicine also recommends combining aerobic exercise with resistance training, adding “Together, these two categories of exercise produce the greatest benefit for preventing and managing heart disease.”
Echelon Brand Ambassador Courtney Veronica Daniels, @courtneyveronica, is also a firm believer in combining cardio with strength training to achieve the greatest benefits from our workouts. Courtney is a wife, mom of two, certified yoga instructor, and works full time in research and development in cancer genetics.
“I've found I'm able to push my limits so much more through mixing up my workouts, working with the Echelon trainers, and incorporating techniques and exercises I learn from others,” says Courtney.
“We just got the Echelon Stride treadmill and it has taken our workouts to the next level! Paired with the Echelon Fit app, it gives us the chance to take live or on-demand running classes from world-class [instructors] or join an off-product studio class like HIIT, kickboxing, or barre.”
So let’s get started and mix up our cardio and strength training to receive the maximum physical and mental benefits for our bodies! This being said, now might be a great time to check out the Echelon Stride treadmill. and find what moves you.