Gym Workouts vs. Aerobics

Women exercising in aerobics class
(Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/GettyImages)

The fitness routine you choose depends on what you want to accomplish. You might want to lose body fat, while someone else wants better muscular development. Two popular approaches are either aerobic training that raises the heart rate and burns calories or gym workouts, mainly weight training, focused on muscle development.

Although both aerobics and gym workouts will improve appearance, whether the focus is on one or the other will depend on which goal is considered most important: Fat loss or better developed muscles?

Gym Workouts Vs. Aerobics for Weight Loss

Often, the reason for beginning an exercise routine is to lose weight. Most people believe that aerobic exercise is the most efficient way to achieve this goal. But, is it?

A research study published in the August 2012 BMC Public Health separated subjects into groups who performed either aerobic exercise, weight training or a combination of both.

While significant weight loss occurred after 12 weeks in the groups who only did aerobic or weight training, the best results were seen in the group that did both. The test-group that did both aerobics and weight training lost more weight and total body fat.

Going to the gym can have some drawbacks that make it less convenient.
Gym workouts provide access to a lot of specialized equipment. (Image: Pixabay)

Are Gym Workouts Better for Improved Appearance?

If your goal is to improve physical appearance, it's hard to know whether aerobics or gym workouts should be your emphasis. Looking good is a crucial part of improving self-image, social standing and, sometimes, even career success. Which is the best approach to look better?

Gym workouts that emphasize using weights or other forms of resistance to improve strength and build muscle can significantly improve muscle appearance within weeks. Broader shoulders, a more attractive butt and a bigger chest can be achieved with gym workouts.

Certain aerobic workouts will burn lots of calories while also working large groups of muscles — examples include swimming, running or elliptical training. This can help you lose fat, but provides less in terms of muscular development, tone and definition.

The choice between a gym workout and aerobics can come down to personal preference.
Aerobics and gym workouts will improve your appearance. (Image: Pixabay)

Aerobics and All Round Fitness

According to research published in the April 2012 issue of Comprehensive Physiology, inactivity is the primary cause of most chronic diseases. Ultimately, exercise is an essential activity to reduce the risk of certain diseases including heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Although gym workouts that incorporate resistance training can improve someone’s fitness levels, are they the best way to achieve the all-round fitness level that prevents chronic disease?

An article in the December 2009 American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine notes that resistance training could prevent, treat or even reverse the impact of many chronic diseases. A progressive weight training program has incredible effects on the musculoskeletal system, creating enhanced physical and mental health.

But, aerobic training may also improve fitness and help people avoid chronic illnesses. A June 2012 article in the International Journal of Medicine explains how low-intensity aerobic exercise such as hiking, swimming and bike riding improves cardiovascular risk factors and improves chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes.

The answer may be to do the type of exercise that's most enjoyable. Doing an exercise that's fun means you'll more likely do it regularly enough to reap the most benefit.

Are Gym Workouts Convenient?

As busy as most people are, convenience is a major concern when deciding on a workout routine. Gym workouts usually mean adding another stop to the daily commute. When the inevitable frustrations of finding parking, negotiating a crowded gym floor and finding an available locker, gym workouts are considered, gym workouts could seem somewhat inconvenient.

Aerobic training can be done almost anywhere — at home, in a backyard or the local park. Because of this, gym workouts will often be much less convenient than doing aerobics.

The Best Approach

Possibly, the best approach is not deciding whether gym workouts are better than aerobics, but just finding what works best for your lifestyle and responsibilities.

Gym workouts can be best for anyone with convenient access to a quality facility as there is usually a broad variety of equipment and instructor-led classes. But, when people are strapped for time, don’t have a gym nearby or just dislike being in the middle of a sweaty crowd, aerobics offers health benefits, flexibility and some quality personal time.

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