In case you need more motivation to hit the gym, remember that the benefits of exercise go beyond just weight loss

The joke is that the gym has become the cause of a polarity for certain people: you either love it or hate it, live in it, or loathe it. But no matter your opinion, you have to admit: the gym is good for you! Its benefits are multi-faceted and have been proven time and time again. 

The aphorism “different strokes for different folks” rings true in this situation. Plenty of experts say it is important to enjoy the experience of exercise before one can succeed in gaining its benefits. Two popular exercises include strength training and cardiovascular exercise, sometimes known as aerobic exercise. Cardiovascular exercise is done to increase heart rate whereas strength training is designed to increase lean muscle tissue. While both have different aims, they are equally advantageous and come with their own set of benefits. 

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A Runner’s High: The Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular disease is on the rise. In 2019, it was reported by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) to have been one of the top five causes of death in the country. This information does not serve to strengthen fear, but rather to motivate. After all, even low-intensity exercises performed daily can have long-term health benefits

Weight loss a given, this type of exercise has plenty of benefits. It staves off fatigue by improving the body’s ability to take in and effectively utilise oxygen. Muscle groups targeted during cardiovascular exercise also adapt and become stronger, making daily movements easier. This type of exercise also helps build lung capacity, which is advantageous to those with chronic lung problems such as asthma. 

Perhaps one of the best things about this exercise is that not only has it been proven to be helpful in the prevention of certain diseases (such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease), but it’s also proven to be beneficial for those who have already been diagnosed. Cardiovascular exercise helps with the maintenance of blood sugar. A study has also shown that those diagnosed with heart disease were able to return to work quicker and feel better after incorporating more aerobic exercise into their routine. 

On a psychological level, cardiovascular exercise helps reduce stress and anxiety. If you’ve ever heard of or experienced a runner’s high, you’ll know what we mean. But the mental benefits are more than just a feeling, there’s a neurochemical explanation for it. Exercise reduces stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol while upping the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood elevators. This is doubly advantageous to people with mild depression or who are going through stressful life changes. 

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Staying Strong: The Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training has advantages against ageing, a process which contributes to the loss of muscle mass consequently, strength. This phenomenon is called sarcopenia and is quite common in older men and women. Strength training can combat this, helping preserve bone density and vitality even with age. However, the importance of this exercise is not exclusive to old age; everyone can benefit from strength training as a safe and effective means of preserving and increasing power, stamina, and stability. 

Studies also show that strength training is not just beneficial for muscles, but for bones as well. Scientists have discovered that strength training can play a role in slowing bone loss, while some have suggested that it can even build bone. Those engaging in exercise with free weights, weight machines, or resistance bands minimise their risk for osteoporosis, which can be dangerous especially as time goes on.  

But strength training isn’t all physical. A handful of studies have implied that resistance training could also help with cognitive ability. Various studies have shown that people who incorporated strength training into their routine test better than those who did not. This has been shown in both an elderly group with regard to improving cognitive frailty and in a test group of young people with regard to their GPA. Although there is no definitive link or sure correlation between strength training and improved cognitive function, the results of these are definitely positive. 

With all these advantages for both cardio and weight training, there's no excuse not to start exercising. Try your hand at both and see which you respond to best. A combination of cardio and strength workouts may be the best solution to help you achieve your goals. Take the time to get healthy this month -- trust us, your body will thank you for it!

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