A balanced workout should include a combination of three types of exercise for weight loss.
Aerobic exercise is also known as cardiovascular training. It includes any kind of movement that raises your heart rate, and makes you breathe deeply for an extended period of time.
Running is a cardiovascular activity, so is swimming, riding a bike and brisk walking. Weight training makes your heart rate increase and makes you breathe deeply but not for long enough to qualify as cardio.
Aerobic activity is the core of most balanced workouts when weight loss is the goal because it burns fat and calories. When you participate in cardio training, your metabolic rate is raised significantly, and if you exercise hard enough, your body will continue to burn fat and calories after exercise.
Importantly, cardiovascular activity improves the function of your heart and lungs – this may not directly contribute to weight loss, but it will help your body to perform better throughout the day helping you to remain more active even when you’re not exercising.
Strength training is the kind of exercise that builds healthy muscle tissue. Strong muscles help you to move more efficiently. It’s often thought that strength training means “lifting weights”, but some simple body weight exercises also qualify as strength training without the need to lift a dumbbell, or put a weight plate on a machine.
Strength training is sometimes avoided when trying to lose weight because it’s thought to add bulk but, in reality, it’s extremely difficult to add significant bulk.
When you build muscle, you increase lean tissue, and the good news is that a body with greater muscle mass burns more calories, even when at rest. For this reason, it’s recommended to include strength training to lose weight more effectively.
Strength training also becomes more important as we age. For many reasons, our metabolism slows as we get older. Many women find that weight gain is almost inevitable after menopause, and weight loss can be difficult. But exercisers who continue to build and maintain muscle are less likely to suffer from a slow metabolism and excessive weight gain.
Flexibility training is stretching, and an effective stretching programme only takes a short time and can be done just about anywhere. Unfortunately, it’s often the most neglected part of a workout.
Stretching is important in helping us to maintain a good range of motion in joints as well as helping muscles to remain loose and healthy. All of this enables easier and more efficient movement, and we experience less pain from tight muscles or muscle imbalances.
So, each of the 3 types of exercise are important for a balanced workout, and you should try to include them in your weekly plan. It doesn’t require a huge time investment – if you currently participate in some aerobic activity on most days of the week, add 15 minutes of strength training on two of those days and just 10 minutes of stretching at the end of each session. This small investment of time will pay you back with big rewards.