Different Exercise Types to Help Fight Sugar Addiction

By Dan DeFigio

The exercise physiology field separates exercise into two major categories: cardiovascular exercise (also known as cardio or aerobic exercise) and strength training (also called resistance training or weight training).

Cardiovascular exercise

Cardio (aerobic) exercise involves repetitive body movements that can be sustained for long periods (for many minutes or, in some cases like a marathon or the Tour de France, even hours). Cardiovascular exercise uses your body’s aerobic system of energy, which means that it uses oxygen, stored carbohydrate, and stored fat for fuel.

Examples of cardio exercise are walking, jogging, cycling, jumping rope, swimming laps, and using the stair climbers or elliptical gizmos at the gym.

Cardio exercise improves the condition of your cardiorespiratory system (heart, lungs, and circulatory system), burns calories, and improves glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

Strength training exercise

Strength training uses an external resistance against your muscles’ contractions during certain types of movements. The resistance can come from weights, exercise tubing, body weight, or any number of fun, exotic things like sandbags, medicine balls, and kettlebells. The key factor of strength training is that the resistance must be great enough to make the muscles tire after a relatively small number of contractions (typically 8 to 12 repetitions).

Strength training yields the same health benefits as cardiovascular exercise, and many additional benefits. Both burn similar numbers of calories (300 to 500 calories per typical session), but strength training is superior for a number of reasons:

  • Strength training delivers all the health benefits of cardiovascular exercise, plus the additional benefits of increased strength, improved bone density, better flexibility, increased metabolic boost, and postural and cosmetic improvements (buff is beautiful!).

  • Strength training results in higher post-exercise oxygen consumption rates (and longer durations) than cardio, meaning you burn more calories after your workout.

  • Strength training develops your muscles, which elevates your metabolism, so you burn more calories doing everything all day.

Combining cardio and strength training

If you’re pressed for time and have to pick either strength training or cardiovascular exercise, you should select strength training because you get so much more bang for your time and effort. If you have time to do both, do your workout in this order:

  1. Warm up.

  2. Do your strength training workout.

  3. Do your cardio exercise.

  4. Cool down and stretch.

  5. Eat a protein and carbohydrate combination.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that every week you should aim to burn 1,500 to 2,000 calories from exercise. That’s about three hard 30-minute workouts each week. If you’re not yet in good enough condition to exercise at a higher intensity, start walking every day and try to work up to being able to walk for an hour straight — that’s about 300 calories.

As your fitness improves, your intensity (how hard you exert yourself) should increase, and your exercise time can decrease.