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What's Better, Aerobics or Strength Training?

If you want to run in your local 5K and the only cardiovascular conditioning you've had in the last month was running to the kitchen, then start with aerobics. If you want to get that 25-pound bag of dog food from the car to the house without hurting yourself, then start with strength training.  What if you're one of the millions of Americans who just wants to lose weight, look good and keep the doctor away?  You need to be doing both aerobics, strength training and stretching.  All three forms of exercise are considered equally important for physical fitness according to the Aerobic and Fitness Association of American (AFAA), and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Based on the ACSM's revised guidelines for 2007, here are some recommendations for physical fitness:
• Cardio (AKA Aerobics, cycling, running, and dancing), 3 to 5 times a week
• Exercise 30 minutes/day, five days/week in  moderate intensity or 20 minutes/day three days/week in vigorous intensity
• Exercise in moderate intensity for about 55-65% of your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age is your HR max).
• Strength and endurance training - weight lifting exercise, 3  to 5 times a week
• Strength training on machines 8 to 10 exercises for 8 to 12 repetitions each, that would take about 20 minutes minimum to work  major muscle groups. Most trainers suggest you move no faster than two seconds to tighten the muscles, two seconds to release. Slower is always better for developing more muscles and avoiding injury. Flexibility and stretching – do every time before exercising, 5 – 7 times a week
• An average of 20 minutes of stretching major muscle groups by holding each static stretch 12-20 seconds will produce the best results.
Here is an acronym that will help you plan: F.I.T. = frequency, intensity and time (or duration).


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