It is not that you should never run, or that running is bad for you, or that you should never do any form of cardio because your personal trainer told you it will eat away at your muscle.
There is a time and place for most forms of exercise and I enjoy taking long hikes myself.
However, if time is a limiting factor, should you do a cardio or strength based workout?
Traditional cardiovascular exercise such as running, hiking and swimming is well known to help with improving heart health, general fitness and reducing body fat.
However, strength training can bring all those benefits and more, including improving posture and strengthening your bones.
If given an extremely busy work schedule with little time to get any exercise done across the week, I would probably choose to do strength over cardio nine times out of 10.
Strength training or weight/resistance training with the use of free weights, weight machines or body weight has many benefits on top of what traditional cardio has to offer.
1. Enjoy better body mechanics and improved quality of life
By this I mean improved posture, balance, basic movement patterns and strength.
Hong Kong is a place that works hard: it is common for people to start work early and finish late, all while hunched over desks staring at screens.
Outside work, the technology bug has really bitten Hong Kong, and it is not uncommon to see people of all ages bent over with terrible posture staring at mobile phones all day.
This can all lead to issues in backs, hips, shoulders and necks all of which can be alleviated and resolved with carefully planned strength training.
For the elderly population, the improved quality of life may be as simple as having the strength and balance to sit and stand unaided.
2. Get lean
Strength training boosts your metabolism and the number of calories you burn during and after training, which is key to fat loss and maintaining lower levels of body fat.
3. Be healthier in general
Strength training can also aid management of chronic diseases.
It can alleviate symptoms of arthritis, help a diabetic manage their blood sugar, and is known to improve general well being, energy levels and mood.
There is virtually no condition where exercise is not recommended to help in some capacity.
4. Have stronger bones
Osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to weaken and become brittle and fragile, may be prevented by regular strength training.
It helps to improve bone mineral density which is important in staving off osteoporosis as we get older.
5. Embrace your stronger, fitter self
Regular strength training will help to increase or maintain muscle mass as well as improving general fitness.