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Is It Bad to Just Do Cardio?

author image Heather Hitchcock
Heather Hitchcock has been writing professionally since 2010. She has contributed material through various online publications. Hitchcock has worked as a personal trainer and a health screening specialist. She graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science.
Is It Bad to Just Do Cardio?
A fit woman is running outdoors. Photo Credit: Christopher Futcher/Hemera/Getty Images

Cardio exercise offers many health benefits, such as reducing your risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes by reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Cardio exercise also burns extra calories, which helps keep body fat levels down; however, limiting yourself to just cardio exercise with no strength training can prevent you from achieving optimal health and the body you desire. Although it is not bad to do just cardio, it is not ideal.

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Strength Training

Strength training improves health and well-being by improving strength, balance and coordination, making daily tasks easier. Like cardio, it also improves blood pressure, cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity, which is essential for preventing and controlling diabetes. Furthermore, it strengthens the tendons and ligaments and increases bone density, which is necessary for preventing osteoporosis.

Fat Loss

Although cardio exercise will burn more calories during the activity, strength training is essential in increasing your metabolism so that more calories are burned throughout the day. For every one pound of muscle tissue, your body will burn up to 50 calories per day, compared with fat tissue, which burns only three calories per pound, notes ExRx website. Moreover, muscle tissue is denser than fat tissue, meaning 1 lb. of muscle will take up less space than 1 lb. of fat, which can help you achieve a more shapely, toned physique.

Exercise Planning

Weekly workout routines should involve both cardio and strength training. Beginners to strength training should start with two days a week performed on nonconsecutive days. Workouts should include exercises targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, back, chest, arms, shoulders and abdominals. The minimum recommendation for cardio exercise is at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking most days of the week, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Increasing the intensity or duration of your cardio exercise might be necessary for continued results in fat loss or aerobic endurance.

Beginner Strength Training Workouts

Beginners who strength train twice a week should perform two total body workouts or one lower body workout and one upper body workout. Perform one to three sets of all exercises in your plan using a weight in which muscle fatigue is reached between eight and 12 repetitions, resting 60 to 90 seconds between sets. A total body workout might include exercises such as squats, lat pull down, leg curl, chest press machine, lunges, lateral raises, barbell curls, triceps bench dips and abdominal crunches. An upper body workout might consist of dumbbell chest press, bent over dumbbell row, cable cross over, cable row, military press, dumbbell curl, dumbbell kickbacks and leg lifts. A lower body workout might include leg press, smith machine squats, walking lunges, leg curl and leg extensions.

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