Aerobic exercise has been part of the fitness scene for many years. Ask anyone how to lose weight and they usually say jump on a treadmill, elliptical trainer, bike or stair stepper; or take a group aerobics class like stepping. The gym has aerobic exercise equipment, but it also has strength training equipment such as dumbbells or free weights along with weight training machines. All the fitness options, including the do-anywhere convenience of aerobics, can be confusing
Aerobic exercise can lead to injury, especially as the intensity increases or when the body is not yet used to a certain activity. Excessive aerobics can break down the body faster, especially in older people, and in time may cause injuries requiring surgery to repair knees, hips, feet, elbows, shoulders and joint cartilage, according to Jim Karas, author of "The Cardio-Free Workout." The author says that with weight training the movements are slow, the workouts are short, and the weight-lifting amount is to a point of failure with an emphasis on the back muscles, minimizing the risk for injury.
Doubtless, there is a certain convenience to aerobic exercise since it can be done anywhere, anytime. Many companies in the fitness industry have offered options for home workouts including the step, the slide, exercise routines on DVD, and stationary bicycles, elliptical trainers, or treadmills. Going to the gym on a regular basis requires a separate trip, which consumes time and money.
Going to the gym and lifting weights builds muscles and leads to a 40 percent greater fat loss, according to “The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises.” Aerobic exercise promotes fitness because the cardiovascular system improves over time. The heart does not have to work as hard to move oxygen. However, according to Jim Karas, the downside is that when this happens, the body burns fewer calories doing the same exercise, and to make progress the frequency, intensity and duration of aerobic activity must increase. The bottom line is that aerobics are good for conditioning of the heart and lungs and for burning body fat, according to Joyce Vedral, author of "Top Shape." But if you only have time for one fitness activity, put in into weight lifting, because it reshapes the body, increases muscle mass, increases bone density, and makes you stronger.
Money and Distractions
Money can be a deciding factor when joining a gym versus doing aerobics. It certainly costs less than a gym membership to do standard aerobic activities such as walking. All you need is a good pair of shoes and some time to make a commitment to walking as a daily health regimen. Going to a gym can lead to distractions from talking to other people, or just watching them. Sometimes it is temping to compare your body to others when working out at the gym, which is also a distraction. However, there is usually a certain energetic atmosphere to be found at the gym, and some camaraderie when you get encouragement from others.
- "The Cardio-Free Diet"; Jim Karas; 2007
- "The Men's Health Big Book of Exercises"; Adam Campbell; 2009
- Idea Fit: Aerobic And Resistance Training Sequence