On Friday (April 24), we talked about why exercise is so important to your health. Today, we’ll explore a common topic I hear among my patients: Which type of exercise is better for weight loss: cardio or strength training?
The truth is, both are important, and I recommend a combination of cardio and strength training exercise to stay strong and healthy. Cardiovascular exercise is easy to achieve at home by walking, jogging or biking. Many of my patients struggle to incorporate strength training exercises at home, but it’s easier than you think, and you don’t need any equipment.
Don’t be intimidated by strength training – anyone can do it. Just start where you are. If you are consistent in your efforts, you will get stronger over time. Try these six easy ways to incorporate strength training at home:
- Push-Ups – There is a reason why push-ups are a go-to exercise for athletes looking to get stronger. They work your chest, shoulders, back and arms. They can also help to improve core strength. If a standard push-up is too challenging, try one with your knees on the floor. If floor push-ups are a bit out of your reach, you can begin by doing push-ups against the wall and slowly increase the incline as you get stronger.
- Planks – Planks build strength in the core, shoulders, back, arms and legs. Planks tone your abs and build strength in your lower back at the same time. Start on the floor on your hands and knees, and then extend your arms and legs. Your wrists should be under your shoulders, and your body should be in one straight line. You can modify this position on your forearms if it is too much on your wrists. Be sure to contract your midsection to maintain a straight torso. Doing planks in front of a mirror can help you check your form.
- Reverse Lunge – Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your side. Step back with one foot and bend both knees to 90 degrees to lower your hips. Return to standing by pushing through the heel of the front foot. Repeat with the opposite leg.
- Squats – These exercises work your legs and glutes, the most powerful muscle groups in the body. Use proper form. Keep your knees over your ankles and your bottom back like you are going to sit in a chair. When you are in the squat position, lift your toes so most of your weight is in your heels. If squats are too challenging, try doing wall-sits. Put your back firmly against a wall and walk your feet out until you are in a sitting position.
- Bodyweight March – Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides. Simultaneously drive your knee and opposite arm up so both are bent at 90 degrees. Lower to starting position, and then repeat on the other side. Tuck your pelvis forward and think about lifting your leg, using your stomach muscles to lift your leg with intention each time.
- Bird-Dogs – This is a great core stabilizing exercise. Kneel on the floor, positioning your knees hip-width apart. Lean forward to place your hands on the mat, shoulder distance apart, hands under shoulders. Stiffen your core and abdominal muscles to place your spine into a neutral position. Simultaneously straighten your opposite arm and leg, hold for a few seconds and return to starting position. Repeat on the other side. It is best to do this in front of a mirror to check your form.
Staying strong helps you to stay healthy. For more tips or advice on improving your physical fitness to help maintain a healthy weight, call our office.
About the author: Megan Zakarewicz, DO, is a family medicine physician with certification in obesity medicine. She leads the Grand View Health Medical Weight Loss program. She is accepting new patients via telemedicine appointments. For more information, call the Grand View Health hotline at 215-453-4100 to schedule an appointment.