Cardio versus strength training

Friday 2nd May

How we exercise depends on our ultimate goal: whether that's improving overall fitness levels, or preparing for a half-marathon. Here are some handy pointers.

Physical activity has an important role to play in improving or maintaining our health. The government recommends that adults (aged 19 to 64) follow these weekly guidelines:

1) Two and a half hours' moderate-intensity aerobic activity (eg cycling, brisk walking), plus muscle-strengthening exercise working the major muscle groups on two or more days; or

2) One and a quarter hours' vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (eg running, squash), plus muscle-strengthening exercise working the major muscle groups on two or more days; or

3) A combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (eg two 30-minute runs, plus one 30-minute brisk walk), plus muscle-strengthening exercise working the major muscle groups on two or more days.

Double impact

When it comes to aerobic training (also known as “cardio training” because it raises the heart rate) and strength training, the key is to strike a healthy balance. I would definitely recommend a combination of both,” says Steven Thompson, a personal trainer and health mentor at Nuffield Health's Fitness & Wellbeing centre in Paddington. “However, your end goal will determine what percentage of time you focus on each. If your goal is an endurance event, for example, the balance is going to be tipped towards cardio training.”

Runners with their sights on a marathon or half-marathon, will still benefit from strength training however. “I am currently helping quite a few of our members who are training for endurance events or stamina events,” says Steven. “I always remind them not to neglect their strength training, as it's probably this that will ensure they don't get injuries during the race.”

The same principle applies to swimmers and cyclists, according to Steven. “While runners often get lower back or knee pains because of the repetitive impact, cyclists can have hip pains because they are seated in one position for a long time and will have tight IT bands,” he says, referring to the “iliotibial band” of connective tissue on the outside of the thigh.

Strength training made easy

This form of physical activity doesn't have to involve lifting weights such as dumbbells or free weights. Also known as resistance training, it allows you to make use of your own bodyweight rather than external weights.

“Resistance training can just be bodyweight,” agrees Steven. “Things like squats or lunges are forms of resistance training, because you're lifting your bodyweight up and down using your legs. I definitely recommend including a certain element of resistance training in your programme.”

Fat loss can be an additional benefit of resistance training. “Before, it was widely accepted across the industry that if you wanted to burn fat you would do a whole load of cardio for x amount of time,” explains Steven. “Over the last decade or so studies have shown that resistance training – and building muscle – will increase your calorie-burning metabolism throughout the day, even at rest.”

Further information

Feeling inspired? You'll find more articles on the topic of physical activity in our Health & Wellbeing section.

On joining benenden healthcare, members have access to the 24-hour GP helpline and can speak to a doctor about any health concerns.

twitter icon facebook icon youtube icon linkedin icon googleplus icon

Contact us - We would love to hear from you

New members

Send us a message

Benenden Personal Healthcare
Holgate Park Drive
York
YO26 4GG
0800 414 8001 * (Lines open 8am-5pm, Mon-Fri excluding Bank Holidays)

Existing members

Send us a message

Benenden Personal Healthcare
Holgate Park Drive
York
YO26 4GG
0800 414 8100 * (Lines open 8am - 8pm, Mon-Fri excluding Bank Holidays)

Please note that your call may be recorded for our mutual security and also for training and quality purposes.

Health cash plans

Policies beginning with BEN1
Benenden Health Cash Plan (Bupa)
Anchorage 3, Anchorage Quays
Salford Quays
Manchester
M50 3XL
0800 970 6517*

Lines are open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 8am - 1pm Saturday.

Policies beginning with BEN2
Benenden Health Cash Plan (BHSF)
2 Darnley Road,
Birmingham,
B16 8TE
0800 414 8071

Lines are open 8.45am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

Self-pay orthopaedic surgery

Send us a message

Benenden Hospital Trust
Goddard's Green Road
Benenden
Cranbrook
Kent
TN17 4AX
01580 242 521 (Lines open 9am-5pm Mon-Fri)

Health assessments

Send us a message

Health assessments
Unit 1, Cameron Court
Cameron Street
Hillington Park
Glasgow
G52 4JH
0800 414 8486*

Travel insurance

Send us a message

Travel insurance
2nd Floor Maitland House
Warrior Square
Southend-on-Sea
Essex
SS1 2JY
0800 414 8301*

Lines open for Sales
9am-8pm Monday to Friday 
9am-5pm Saturday
10am-5pm Sunday

Lines open for Customer Services
9am-8pm Monday to Friday
9am-5pm Saturday
10am-5pm Sunday

Benenden business healthcare

Send us a message

Benenden Business Healthcare
Holgate Park Drive
York
YO26 4GG
0800 414 8179* (Lines open 9am-5pm Mon-Fri)

Home insurance

Send us a message

Benenden Home Insurance
1st Floor Maitland House
Warrior Square
Southend on Sea
Essex
SS1 2JY
0800 414 8556* (Lines open Monday to Friday 9am – 7pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm, excludes Bank Holidays)

Home Emergency
0800 294 2851* (Lines open 24 hours a day)

Legal Expenses
0330 100 9618* (Lines open 24 hours a day)

Charitable trust

Send us a message

Find out more

Charitable Trust
Holgate Park Drive
York
YO26 4GG
0800 414 8450* (Lines open 8am - 4pm Mon-Fri)