The age-old question continues to be “cardio or weights,” but aerobics can never replace strength training, and vice versa!
No matter how little time you think you have for these two very crucial forms of exercise, you shouldn’t choose between cardio or weights. Think of it this way: Early man didn’t have a choice.
Ancient civilizations were forced to perform cardio activities and weight-bearing movements nearly every day, and sometimes for hours a day. This is how humans proliferated as a species, and it’s why cardiovascular disease remains rare among modern-day hunter-gatherers.
Cardio exercise, no matter how intense, cannot substitute for lifting weights. Though weight lifting can have a cardiovascular component, depending on the workout, it still pales in comparison to what high intensity interval training (HIIT) can do for cardiovascular fitness.
Although sustained pacing (steady state) cardio is the most popular form of aerobic exercise, the best form of cardio is HIIT, and the research to support this just keeps piling up.
The benefits of HIIT include improved cholesterol profile; substantially lowered risk of heart disease, cancer and type II diabetes; faster resting metabolism; dramatically increased stamina for when you do have to maintain steady state pacing (e.g., jogging through an airport to make a flight); and alleviation of all sorts of ailments, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia and frequent colds.
There is, however, another application that HIIT has to everyday living that many people do not consider.
HIIT improves one’s ability to rise to the occasion when physical exertion is called for, such as sprinting across a parking lot in the pouring rain; racing up a flight of stairs to check on a hurt child; and any other unexpected bout of action requiring speed and stamina.
It only makes sense that people should engage in HIIT. After all, it’s exactly what hunter-gatherers did thousands of years ago when fleeing from danger or chasing after dinner.
Strength training is the other half of the equation, and it deserves equal billing because it’s truly the fountain of youth.
Man has been lifting weights throughout history and long before. The oldest form of strength training was building piles of rocks or shifting boulders about; dragging caught prey; constructing huts; and carrying children and babies for miles on foot.
Weight lifting is our heritage, and to lead a life without consistent weight-bearing exercise is asking for plenty of trouble.
Strength training significantly lowers the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type II diabetes, depression, anxiety, back troubles, knee pain and one of industrialized man’s biggest enemies: brittle bone disease.
What’s more, having a strong musculoskeletal system means a far smaller chance of suffering injury in a slip-and-fall, car accident or other mishap.
It is not a matter of cardio or weights. There is no choice. The formula consists of both training with weights, and training on a track, treadmill, mountain trail, cardio equipment or in a cardio class.
For optimal health, well-being, stamina and strength, you absolutely need to lift weights and do cardio exercise, too.
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