It's no secret that regular exercise is good for your health. To protect against heart disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 75 to 150 minutes of exercise each week. Regular exercise such as this will strengthen your heart, thereby lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Not all forms of exercise are the same, however. There are two main types of exercise: aerobic and resistance. So, what's the difference between aerobic and resistance exercise, and which type is best for your health?
The Basics of Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise consists of workouts and physical activities that force your body to consume more oxygen. The term "aerobic," in fact, literally means "requiring free oxygen." Aerobic exercises speed up your heart rate and breathing rate, resulting in the consumption of more oxygen.
Running and jogging are considered aerobic exercises because they force your body to consume more oxygen. When you run or jog, your heart rate and breathing rate will increase. Aerobic exercise is also known as "cardio" because of the positive impact it has on the heart muscle. It will strengthen your heart while promoting healthy blood flow in the process.
The Basics of Resistance Exercise
Resistance exercise consists of workouts and physical activities that apply resistance to one or more groups of muscles. Lifting weights, for instance, is considered a resistance exercise because it applies to resistance to muscles. When you lift weights -- whether free weights or machine weights -- your muscles must overcome the added resistance.
It's important to note that not all resistance exercises involve weights; they can apply other forms of resistance to your muscles, such as the weight of your body. A common example is push-ups. Performing push-ups applies the weight of your upper body to your arm muscles.
While resistance exercises are good for the heart as well, they offer the greatest benefit for your muscles. Your body will respond to the added resistance by building new muscle tissue. Essentially, this is how you develop bigger and stronger muscles.
Why You Should Perform Both Types
Rather than only performing aerobic or resistance exercise, consider using both. Aerobic exercise is most beneficial for your heart, whereas resistance exercise is most beneficial for your muscles. If you only perform one of these two types of exercise, you won't be able to take advantage of their respective benefits.