Strength vs. Cardio Exercise for Disease Prevention


It is clear that exercise provides lots of great benefits for our health: it releases endorphins, it eliminates toxins, it is good for digestion, it decreases likelihood of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, it helps you fight stress and it keeps your appetite hormones under balance…amongst many other things!

However, what type of exercise is best for disease prevention? 150min of cardio activity each week is already beneficial. What if we include strength training (ie. Functional Interval Training, High Intensity Interval Training, Weight Lifting, etc)? Based on the studies carried out by some of the world’s experts, it seems that the recommendation (for healthy people without a pathological condition) is to include at least 2 sessions of strength training per week to reduce the risk of major chronic disease, in particular, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and even cancer. Strength training has a great impact on insulin sensitivity, that is, to prevent insulin resistance, which is the beginning of type II Diabetes.

Other benefits of strength training are improvement of: muscle mass, lipids, blood pressure, body composition, etc.

Interval training, in particular, increases mitochondrial biogenesis, which has a huge impact on energy production. Another interesting fact related to energy production, to take into account is that: at rest approximately 70% of the ATP (the body’s energy currency) produced is ideally derived from fats and 30% from carbohydrates. This remains true for mild-to-moderate exercise.
As the intensity of the exercise increases, there is a shift in substrate preference from fats to carbohydrates. During high intensity aerobic exercise, almost 100% of the energy is derived 
from carbohydrates, if an adequate supply is available. 
So take this into account when fueling for exercise!

To summarize, it seems that they recommendation is to combine both types of exercise, cardio and strength, to reduce the risk of chronic disease and increase longevity.

And as I always say, choose the type of exercise also based on you personality, whatever you like best, since it will increase compliance.


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