Cardio and weights: The magic combination


There are two things that every healthy workout regimen needs: cardiovascular exercise and resistance training. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer some flexible recommendations. At the very least, adults should engage in moderate aerobic activity for 150 minutes each week or vigorous physical activity for 75 minutes each week. They also recommend activities which strengthen muscles at least two days per week. It doesn’t matter if you do this in a couple of days or over a week. If you are looking to start a useful workout regimen, include these two things for optimal results.

Cardiovascular work gets your heart rate going and starts your breathing factor. Those two things are the defining element of cardiovascular work, so things like shopping for groceries or walking from the car to the store won’t count (unless you are doing them very quickly). Things like pushing a lawnmower or riding a bike to the store can count as moderate activity. Participating in organized team sports, running, playing tennis or swimming laps are the kinds of activities that compose vigorous activities. If you are starting an exercise regime and are looking for maximum effect, start with moderate activities and then lead to more vigorous ones, counting each minute of vigorous activity as equal to approximately two minutes of moderate action.

Muscle-strengthening activities should work all of your major muscle groups-legs, arms, back, chest, abdomen and shoulders. For maximum benefit, they should be done until it is difficult to do any more work with that muscle group. Weightlifting is the classic method of muscle-strengthening, but if you’re not interested in heading to the gym and pumping iron, there are a lot of other ways that you can get some resistance training. Today, many people choose to use exercise bands at home, which is cheaper and more convenient than a gym membership. You can also do exercises that use your own body weight as the resistance. Sit-ups and push-ups fit into this category, as do other exercises like knee bends and lunges. You can also count things like heavy gardening as your weekly activity.

Many activities like yoga, hiking and swimming actually combine the two of these, making them the perfect exercise. It’s important to accurately assess your level of effort when engaging in these activities. A Yin Yoga class shouldn’t count the same as a Bikram class, and a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk isn’vt the same as a 12-mile hike up hills.

Whatever you decide to do, keep these basic principles in mind. Try to get your cardiovascular system up and running for at least 30 minutes, five times per week and work to strengthen muscles at least twice per week. Just cardio work or strengthening muscles won’t have the combined benefits of doing the two of them in concert.