In this month’s article we discuss the overall benefits of doing steady state cardiovascular exercise versus doing resistance training. Should we run more or lift more?
First up, will cardio or lifting weights help you lose more body fat? One study states how much fat you burn in the gym is entirely governed by the intensity of the exercise
itself, so sprinting over a short distance or lifting a very heavy weight burns as many calories as slow jogging for a longer distance or doing lighter weights.
For the average person, you will burn more fat in the gym doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) than you will by doing regular weight lifting. However, weight training was
shown to increase resting metabolism for at least 31 hours post workout. This is on top of the fact that, by resistance training we are increasing our muscle mass and extra muscle has been shown to increase resting metabolism by a further 9%.
Slowing Age Related Illness
Exercise is being heralded as the fountain of youth for most people! Multiple studies have shown that not only does resistance training increase the muscle mass of the heart, making it stronger, it also increases overall skeletal muscle mass making us stronger. Through heavy resistance training we produce a protein called Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF1) which helps with cartilage repair. This can, in turn, help joint health in those suffering from things like osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Improving Internal Health
Exercise is very helpful in maintaining other parts of our internal health, like blood sugar levels and hormone levels. While both cardio and resistance training help manage
insulin levels, only cardio in the form of HIIT helps improve overall blood sugar levels whereas most resistance training will do the trick.
A very recent study has shown that cardio helps produce more of a protein know as fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) which is active in weight loss, glucose control, and reducing inflammation. Whereas resistance training inhibits FGF19 which aids weight loss, reduces fats and glucose levels in the liver, and improves use of insulin.
As your muscles are challenged over a sustained period of time during steady-state cardio, the mitochondria (parts of your cells that mediate respiration and energy production) grow in number and size. This makes your muscles more efficient at using oxygen. Steady-state cardio also causes certain cardiovascular adaptations, which make your heart stronger and better equipped to do its job through long bouts of physical activity.
Recent studies show that excess visceral fat carries an increased risk of heart disease, no matter your weight. In one study of 10,500 men, those who strength trained for 20 minutes per day gained less visceral fat over a period of 12 years compared to those who spent the same amount of time engaged in cardiovascular activity.