Exercise 101: Cardio vs. weights

Whether you just want to work on your general health and fitness, or if you’re training specifically for a sport, it’s a good idea to introduce some kind of structure to your workouts. Some kind of planned exercise for at least 30 minutes every day is what you should be aiming for, and a fitness regime including both cardiovascular exercise and weight bearing exercise is ideal.

Whats the difference between cardio and weights?

Many activities incorporate a bit of both, however generally when we’re talking about cardio exercise, it’s the kind that gets your heart rate beating faster and leaves you huffing and puffing.

Weights exercise doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be using dumbbells or weighted pieces of equipment – it just means some kind of weight bearing exercise. This means that yoga and pilates fit under this category; these two activities have the additional benefit that they help increase flexibility which means you will be less likely to be injured.

Here’s some ideas for your workouts so you don’t get bored. Be creative, look around for some group fitness classes or sports to get into. If you are having fun exercising, it will make it seem less like a chore. You could also try roping in a friend, work colleague or family member to do it with so you can keep each other motivated.

Cardio ideas to spice up your routine

Cardiovascular activities to help strengthen your heart and lungs, and gets your blood pumping! Give some of these a go:

  • Running/jogging outdoors or on a treadmill (beach, waterfront, bush, road…)
  • Ball sports (soccer, netball, basketball, rugby, touch)
  • Cross trainer/elliptical trainer
  • Rowing
  • Swimming and water walking
  • Cycling
  • Dancing
  • Aerobics classes
  • Martial arts
  • Walking (be careful here! Most people don’t walk fast enough to make it worthwhile. You need to get out of breath otherwise it’s not going to change anything!)
  • Plyometrics (jumping) – skipping, star jumps, burpees
  • Stair running

Some resistance training options to balance it out

Remember that this will be anything that involves some kind of resistance-based exercise, whether it’s using actual weights or your own body weight. Doing some resistance training each week will help you grow stronger muscles and bones. Try mixing up your workouts with the following:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Freeweights (dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls etc.)
  • Pin weights (usually in a gym, i.e. you insert a pin into a weight plate to make it heavier/lighter)
  • Calisthenics (bodyweight exercises like squats and push ups)

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