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Fitness

Is cardio better than weights? An expert weighs in

We finally get a straight answer.

By Rebecca Sullivan
With so many different forms of exercise to choose from - spin! running! Pilates! yoga! HIIT! boxing! - it can become completely overwhelming when deciding how you should break a sweat.
We know that weight training is super important not just for creating attractive-looking muscle tone, but also to increase our bone density so we can prevent osteoporosis.
We've also been told that high intensity interval training is the fastest way to torch fat and burn calories.
But what about cardio? Is there a place for exercise like running, swimming or cycling on a bike? Or the classic spin class?
Health experts say absolutely! While pilates might give you abs and a toned butt, doing cardio can help burn lots of calories if you've overindulged a little and it's excellent for maintain heart health - something that's absolutely crucial as we get older.
The Duchess of Sussex loves to keep fit and healthy with a wide variety of exercises. Getty
If the classic form of cardio - running - isn't for you (it can be terrible if you've got weak joints), then perhaps you might consider a spin class.
Made popular overseas by cult fitness studios like Soul Cycle, spin classes are offered at most mainstream gyms these days, plus there are loads of specialised boutique spin studios cropping up all around the country.
One of those is Cycology Club in Sydney's Surry Hills, which offers high intensity spin classes that help you feel like you're in a nightclub, not an exercise class. The awesome pop soundtrack and fun light show ensure the class is far from boring.
Cycology founder David Finnimore says doing a bit of cardio a few times a week is crucial for maintaining your cardiovascular health.
"It is SO important to incorporate cardio into exercise routines. It is effectively training your heart which is the internal system you can't see," David told Now To Love.
"Weight training is great to sculpt and tone the muscles on the outside, however it's your heart that keeps you going!
"Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in Australia and participating in cardiovascular training a few times per week is critical to fighting this."
Celebrities like Jessica Alba are fans of spin. Supplied
One of the many benefits of spin is that it's low-impact, so your joints are kept safe.
"Spin is a relatively low impact way to increase your cardiovascular activity when compared to HIIT programs," David said.
It's also great for people on a busy schedule, because you get a full-on workout done in just 45 minutes. So no need to spend hours slaving away in the gym!
"We say 45 minutes of a high intensity spin ride is optimum. If you opt for a low-medium intensity it would take about 2 hours to feel the same benefits of cardiovascular." David added.
"It really just depends on the person ... It is all about having a positive relationship with exercise and doing something that is sustainable for you and your body.
"There are benefits of both, for example a two hour low intensity walk will get you the same outcomes as 45 minutes of high intensity cardio. It comes down to what works for your body and what is achievable."
Former Victoria's Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio getting in a spin class. Supplied
But David says his favourite benefit of cardio is the mental high you get after doing one of these workouts.
"Mental health plays a huge part in this along with the stress of life, jobs, kids, mortgage, etc and sometimes it can feel never-ending," he said.
"Cardio gives you the opportunity to un-plug and spend time to yourself and gives you improved mental awareness and reduces anxiety and depression."
WATCH BELOW: See Olympia Valance's exercise routine. Story continues after video.
Plus, cardio is proven to reduce anxiety, stress and depression, while increasing energy and brain function.
"Regular cardio will also reduce insomnia and give you a greater resilience to stress. You will feel and be your best self," David said.
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