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Q: Is there a difference between running and lifting weights to help lose weight?

We’ve all heard it before. Weight loss is a simple formula of calories in vs. calories out. All diet trends aside – low carb, gluten free, paleo, low fat, etc. – this formula does actually ring true. A well designed plan for weight loss will include diet (calories in) and exercise (calories out). One pound is approximately 3,500 calories so to lose one pound per week, you need to create a deficit of 500 calories per day. There are a few different ways to create this deficit. This can be accomplished either by eating fewer calories or burning more calories through exercise. As a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation therapist, I will always advocate for the latter. Exercise can and should be fun, with benefits that go far beyond weight loss and maintenance. Let’s take a look at the two different types of exercise and the benefits of both.

Strength Training, also known as weight training or resistance training, is exercise that creates muscular contraction to build strength, endurance, and muscle size. There are many benefits to this type of exercise, including:

• Improved skeletal muscle strength
• Improved endurance
• Increased muscle mass, bone density, and connective tissue thickness
• Improved joint function and flexibility
• Improved posture
• Decreased risk of injury

Ideally, strength training should be performed on non-consecutive days at least twice a week. A variety of equipment can be used such as machines, dumbbells, bands or you may simply use your own body weight. It is recommended to do 8-12 repetitions of 1-3 sets. Strength training will also help increase your muscle mass which will in turn help your body burn more calories.

Cardiovascular Exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is movement that increases the heart and respiratory rate, and increases the blood and oxygen flow throughout the body. Some of the many benefits of cardiovascular exercise include:

• Increased heart muscle strength
• Improved cholesterol
• Stress reduction
• Lowered blood pressure
• Mood and self-esteem boost
• Weight control
• Improved sleep

When possible, cardiovascular exercise should be performed most days of the week. Walking is the cheapest and easiest way to get started. If you’re just starting out, try just 5 to 10 minutes of exercise 3 times per week and build up to 30 minutes 5 times per week. A good goal to aim for is 150 minutes of moderate exercise (walking), or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (jogging) each week. Of course there are many other fun and beneficial ways to get in that cardio. Choose something you enjoy and try to get friends or family to join you!

Annie Bennett, Sr EP, MS
Supervisor Cardiopulmonary Rehab

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