Although there is increasing awareness of the value of strength training, that doesn’t mean it’s more important than cardiovascular exercise. You need both. Strength training, especially when done with “functional” moves, such as squats, overhead presses, and crunches, improves overall fitness, stabilizes and protects joints, raises metabolic functioning, and may release mood-enhancing endorphins. But to be really fit—and to really prevent diseases such as diabetes—you need to work your heart and lungs with some kind of cardiovascular exercise. Some work-out classes or programs combine both kinds of training (i.e. Body Pump®). But typically you’ll need to spend time each week with weights, for strength training, and some time in an aerobics or spin class, or running, hiking, biking, swimming, cross-country skiing or some other kind of activity that raises your heart rate and keeps it up for at least 20-30 minutes.
Some newer exercise fads argue that cardiovascular exercise is less important for health than strength training — is there science to back up this claim?
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