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Cardio vs. Strength Training

A Look at Two Main Types of Physical Exercise

Regular exercise is more than just good for you, it’s a powerful way to improve your physical and mental health. Most types of exercise fall into one of two categories: cardiovascular exercise (cardio for short, also known as aerobic or endurance exercise) and strength training. Understanding how these two forms of exercise are similar and different can help you build a routine that’s right for you.

Cardio Exercise

Cardio exercise increases your heart rate. During cardio workouts, your heart pumps faster and harder to deliver your muscles the extra oxygen they need. Some examples of cardio include:

  • Running/Walking;
  • Cycling;
  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT); and
  • Swimming.

The ideal amount of cardio exercise should be 150 minutes of moderate cardio or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio a week. The primary benefits of cardio exercise include:

  • Improving heart health and endurance;
  • Increasing energy levels and boosting your mood; and
  • Regulating your blood pressure and blood sugar.

Strength Training

Strength training uses a form of resistance such as weights, exercise bands or even your own body to make your muscles stronger through repetition. Some examples of strength training are:

  • Weightlifting;
  • Yoga; and
  • Push-ups, sit-ups and squats.

The amount of strength training that should be done is at least two times a week. The primary benefits of strength training include:

  • Improving balance and coordination;
  • Helps prevent injury by improving flexibility and bone health; and
  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight.

The bottom line

Cardio exercise and strength training each have unique health benefits. Combining cardio and strength training in your workout routine is the best way to get in shape and stay your healthiest.

Before starting any fitness routine, please consult with a medical professional for guidance.

For more information about cardio and strength training, read here:

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In partnership with the YMCA, Hally Health focuses on a variety of topics aimed at people of any age or fitness level who want to stay healthy and active. Try this sports cardio workout that’s sure to get your heart pumping. To view all of our YMCA partnership fitness videos throughout the month, please visit or

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