Strength training has gotten increasingly hyped in recent years for all of its purported health benefits. But before you start skipping those long bicycle rides or that Zumba class in favorite of hitting the weights, you might want to think twice. Why? New research shows that endurance cardio may actually be better for helping you live longer.
In a new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, scientists from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden split 30 participants into three groups: an endurance exercise group, a resistance exercise group, and a no-exercise control group. Endurance group members did 45 minutes of cycling, while resistance group members did four sets of seven reps of a leg extension maneuver. Researchers took blood and skeletal muscle samples from all subjects before the workout, 30 minutes after the workout, and then three hours post-workout to see what the changes occurred within the blood plasma and individual cells.
What they found is that only endurance cardio increased mitochondrial activity. Given that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, it’s critical for stabilizing key measurements like your blood pressure and cholesterol levels while also promoting overall health and longevity. Resistance training, on the other hand, didn’t offer the same benefits. Based on their findings, researchers hope that their work encourages people to simply move more. “This is one more reason to focus on staying active,” explained study co-author Ferdinand Von Walden, MD, PhD, assistant professor at the Karolinska Institutet. “Not only will you improve metabolic health, but you can also increase longevity.”
This research also doesn’t mean you should slouch on that strength training! It’s still wildly important for improving sleep quality, maintaining bone health as you age, and fighting muscle loss. In order to get the most out of your workout schedule, a combination of both types of exercise — cardio and resistance work — is the way to go if you want to live longer and feel your best.