An apple a day keeps the doctor away! Everyone’s heard it. Most people have also heard that exercise helps to keep the doctor even further away, but what type, how much, what intensity, and the hundreds of other similar questions often leave us confused and unmotivated to get up off that couch. The American College of Sports Medicine advises us that, “A program of regular exercise that includes cardiorespiratory, resistance, flexibility, and neuromotor [balance and coordination] exercise training beyond activities of daily living to improve and maintain physical fitness and health is essential for most adults”. It’s clear that a well-rounded exercise routine is of paramount importance to our daily wellbeing regardless of age, but what that routine is has become murky.
This brings us to the age old question: cardio or resistance training? To pump iron or hit the pavement? The good news: both can be great for you, and not only physically, but mentally as well! An astounding amount of studies have shown that exercise alone, either aerobic (cardio) or anaerobic (resistance training), do just as well as therapy and medication in treating individuals with depression, and even cause lower lasting rates of depression than medication does. Most of us have also heard the term endorphin thrown around: the mysterious substance that causes the ‘runner’s high’, reducing pain and producing that sense of euphoria after a brutal run or weightlifting session. And even if euphoria and pain reduction just isn't enough, exercise can help you sleep better, improve mood, improve memory, become less susceptible to sickness and disease, and live longer, just to scratch the surface. There’s no doubt about it: exercise of any form has some great benefits for everyone. While this holds true, each type has different benefits.
So what’s the difference and which is better? Without diving too much into the biological processes and hard science behind the evidence, cardio has been found to be better for strictly losing weight, while resistance training alone builds muscle for the most part. There are caveats, as in everything, however. In studies with untrained men, a strength-based resistance training program resulted in significant strength increases as well as a reduction in fat mass while building fat-free mass. In addition, lean muscle mass leads to a higher metabolism rate than fat mass, which can contribute to weight loss. On the other side, cardio helps decrease the energy and cardiovascular demands of walking and other everyday actions, especially in older individuals, and decreases risk for cardiovascular and other diseases.
So, if you’re like almost everyone else out there still confused as to which is better for you, don’t fret, because it really is a trick question. In order to be the healthiest we can be, we need a combination of both cardio and resistance training at the least. So circling back to the beginning of this post: where does finding a combination of cardiorespiratory, resistance, flexibility, and neuromotor exercise leave us? Right here at X-Core with the Lagree Method!
Ask the man himself, Sebastien Lagree!