How to Lose Weight in Your Sleep


In a recent post Want to Lose Weight? we determined that 75% of weight loss is driven by diet and 25% through exercise. But which type of exercise is best to burn those extra calories: cardiovascular exercise or strength training?

Cardiovascular exercise, an aerobic exercise, is any exercise that is performed over a relatively long duration at a low to moderate intensity and takes place in the presence of oxygen at a cellular level. Examples of cardiovascular exercise include distance running, brisk walking, cycling and dancing or any exercise that can be maintained continuously for at least ten minutes using the large muscle groups of the body and can also be described as rhythmical.

Strength (resistance) training, is an anaerobic exercise that is performed over a relatively short duration at a very high intensity in the absence of oxygen. It can only be sustained for a very short period of time mainly due to a build of lactic acid in the working muscle. Examples of anaerobic exercise include sprinting (running or cycling) and strength (resistance) training or any exercise that consists of short sharp bursts of intense physical activity.

The benefits of aerobic exercise have been well documented, and covered in many of our previous posts. However, as a brief reminder, in addition to strengthening the heart and lungs, regular participation in aerobic exercise will:
  • build up endurance and energy levels
  • help lower the risk of developing chronic diseases such as strokes, heart attacks and type 2 diabetes
  • help lose weight and maintain weight at a healthy level
  • help relieve stress and depression
Conversely, the benefits of anaerobic exercise have not been as well documented, by the media at least. Those benefits include:
  • joint protection due to increase in muscle mass and muscle strength
  • reduced risk of developing osteoporosis and broken bones because of the increases in bone density and bone strength attributed to anaerobic exercise
  • increase in sport and exercise performance due to increases in muscular strength and power
  • increased metabolism - more calories are burned due to the increase in muscle mass
Perhaps the least known benefit is that certain types of anaerobic exercise, namely resistance training, can help lower the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes:

Recent work has shown that interventions such as resistance training…increase muscle mass and glycolytic capacity … can improve body composition” … “increasing muscle mass and glycolytic capacity may effectively counter insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus.Metabolic benefits of resistance training and fast glycolytic skeletal muscle, LeBrasseur NK1, Walsh K, Arany Z.

As both cardiovascular exercise and strength training can claim to aid weight loss or increase calorie burning in some way, which one burns the most calories?

The short answer is anaerobic exercise and it’s all to do with your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

Progressive, resistance exercise can elicit significant improvements in BMR.Six Weeks of Moderate Functional Resistance Training Increases Basal Metabolic Rate in Sedentary Adult Women, JON R. STAVRES, MCAULEY P. ZEIGLER, and MADELINE P. BAYLES.

During both cardiovascular workouts and strength training, calories are burned depending on the type and intensity of the exercise with the amount burned also dependent on body weight. When the exercise session ceases the body continues to burn some calories, also dependent on the intensity and duration of the exercises performed. However, if strength training is performed on a regular basis the body’s muscle mass will increase which in turn will increase your BMR every minute of every day, even when you are asleep. Basically, the more muscle you have on your body the more calories you will burn. That doesn’t mean you need to be a bodybuilder, just add some muscle mass.

However, cardiovascular workouts should not be dismissed just because of this potential small increase in calories burned by strength training. A combined exercise programme of both cardio and strength should be included as part of a healthy active lifestyle; our bodies need all the help they can get to combat the stresses and strains of our modern day diet and lifestyle.

You may have heard the phrase “you’re only fit for what you train for” or some version thereof. Training for a marathon isn’t going to make you a great kayaker, or even prevent you from being left behind as your mates paddle away from you. Being a really fit cyclist doesn’t set you up to compete in a 10K run. Variation is good. Aerobic and anaerobic exercise together is good. Exercise with a good diet is even better.

Ready to mix it up? Check out our tahdah clients and see if you can add one or more of them to your regime.

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