A group of people exercise together by punching the air.
Want to kick fat to the curb? Get your heart pumping. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Cardio or strength training?

Both types of exercise deliver a variety of health benefits for men and women.

But if your time is limited and you are trying to lose weight, aerobic exercise may be your best bet, says Kim DeLaFuente, ACSM-PD, an exercise physiologist with Spectrum Health Healthier Communities.

Aerobic exercise, such as walking, running or using a treadmill, is more effective for weight loss and body fat loss than resistance or strength training, according to a Duke University study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Strength workouts, such as bands, free weights and weight machines, are also certainly good for you because you’ll build muscle. But in the Duke study, participants in the resistance-training-only group did not lose body fat.

And those who combined aerobic and strength exercises had similar results to the aerobic exercise group, but with an increased time commitment.

But that doesn’t mean you should forego the weights, DeLaFuente said.

Strength training helps you maintain bone strength, especially important for women as they get older, and increased muscle tone gives your body better definition.

“It’s what makes you look good as the pounds fall off,” she says. “It also helps your body burn calories more efficiently.”