Here’s a question we often get, “If I only have a little time each day to work-out, what should I do?”In other words, what type of exercise gives you the most bang for your buck? It’s a good question. If your goal is long-term health, healthy body composition, and a longer more energetic lifestyle, the answer is easy.
Many types of exercise burn fat. Traditionally, people have used low intensity aerobic exercise to try and lose weight, or control body fat composition. A significant amount of research is now coming out that shows that interval training (bouts of shorter more intense work, coupled with rest periods) can burn more fat than lower intensity aerobic sessions (that last longer). What most people don’t know, is that resistance training can also be used as a primary exercise means to burn fat. Research from the Human Performance Laboratory at East Carolina University, showed that not only did resistance training increase fat oxidation (fat burning) during exercise, but that consistent resistance training helped increase subjects’ fat burning long after exercise was over. The reason is simple. After muscles are stressed by resistance exercise, your body uses energy to repair these tissues, and help the muscles grow to adapt to this new stress. The energy your body uses to repair these muscles comes in part from your available fat sources. So, in building lean muscle, you actually burn more fat even when you are not working out.
The best part about resistance training is that fat loss is not its only benefit. Unlike some forms of endurance exercise, like jogging, resistance training does not put a large amount of stress on your joints. Repetitive impacts from jogging can place a large amount of stress on soft and connective tissue, leading to tendonitis and joint inflammation. Unlike high impact activities, resistance exercise challenges joints in a controlled environment. Connective tissues are stretched and strengthened along with muscles, so that the entire muscular structure adapts together.
Research from the Institute of Sports Medicine Copenhagen, in Denmark, showed that resistance training actually increased the size (and strength) of tendons involved in the exercise. In addition, research from the Department of Kinesiology at The College of William and Mary showed that resistance training positively affects bone density. The muscles that are strengthened during resistance training place increased stress on the points where they attach to the bone. The bone, in turn, must get stronger to adapt to these stronger muscles. This implication has special importance with elderly people, whose bone strength can weaken over time. Lastly, research from the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Ohio University showed that resistance training in elderly people not only increased strength, but also treadmill endurance performance and aerobic capacity.
So if you’re short on time, and want to engage in exercise that will improve your quality of life in the near and distant future, get off the treadmill and pick up a dumbbell. You’ll be glad you did.