Pounding Pavement vs. Pumping Iron

Melanie Rovinsky

It doesn’t take a fitness guru to understand that a well-rounded exercise regimen would prove to be more beneficial than an unbalanced one. However, when it comes to actually implementing the workout plan, many of us tend to favor one aspect of exercise over another. Take me, for example: I have no problem running for an hour and a half straight, but I strategically avoid the weight room at all costs. And, although my inability to do more than 10 pushups should have been motivation on its own, I did not fully appreciate the value of strength training until doing a little bit of research.

 “I just want to lose weight.”

Many people, especially women, avoid lifting weights because they believe they will shed more calories doing cardio exercises. To a certain extent, they are right. According to Women’s Health, lifting weights burns about eight to 10 calories per minute, while cardiovascular training burns 10 to 12. One reason for this difference is that cardio activity is constant and resistance training involves reps and periodic rests. There is, however, a secret caloric bonus to lifting. Weight training speeds up your metabolism for an entire hour after you finish working out! This allows you to cut an additional 25 percent of the total calories you burned during your entire routine.

And your body won’t stop shedding calories there! Dr. Wayne Wescott, director of research at the Quincy, Mass. YMCA, claims, “For every 3 pounds of muscle you build, you’ll burn an extra 120 calories a day – just vegging -because muscle takes more energy to sustain.”

 “I just want to feel good.”Regular exercisers are well aware of the mental stability they experience as a result of working out. Cardiovascular activity is quick to deliver in this area. Known for its knack for kicking stress to the curb, aerobic activity triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, giving exercisers a natural high. Cardio is also known to significantly reduce anxiety and fight fatigue. In addition, Women’s Health believes that cyclists, runners, and swimmers have increased self-confidence due to the rush they feel every time they cross the finish line.

Although resistance training does not cause an excessive release of “feel good” chemicals in the brain, it does help with body image issues. Immediately after lifting weights, blood rushes to the worked muscles causing them to appear fuller and more toned. Seeing instant results will make you feel better about yourself!

 “I just want to be healthy.”There are numerous health benefits to exercising, and both cardio and strength training programs have something to contribute. In fact, both ways of working out can help to increase your lifespan! Regular cardiovascular exercise reduces heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, and even some forms of cancer.

“Nothing compares with cardio for optimizing longevity,” says Dr. Mike Meyers, a certified trainer at American College of Sports Medicine.

However, weight training helps too! According to Women’s Health, “A 2006 study by the National Institutes of Health found that lifting weights just twice a week can prevent you from gaining intra-abdominal fat – the kind that wraps around organs and constricts blood vessels.” Not to mention the fact that weight training helps prevent injuries that often occur during cardiovascular activities and even during your everyday routine.