According to a study, endurance exercise may stimulate cells more than strength training.‍

September 9, 2022

According to studies published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, endurance exercises, such as running or biking, seems to induce positive changes at the cellular level in a manner that strength training does not.

“This is one more reason to focus on staying active,” says study co-author Ferdinand Von Walden, MD, PhD, assistant professor of clinical muscle physiology at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. “Not only will you improve metabolic health, but you can also increase longevity.”

About the Study

30 participants were randomly assigned to the resistance exercise, endurance exercise, or no exercise control groups. Skeletal muscle biopsies and blood samples were taken before and after the session, and the researchers discovered that the endurance group displayed increased mitochondrial activity, whereas the other two groups did not. This is significant because mitochondria are the cell's powerhouses, according to Dr. Von Walden. He observes that the stronger your mitochondrial activity, the more likely it is that you will have good metabolic health. That leads to low blood pressure, regular blood sugar, and good cholesterol values.

More Endurance Benefits

Research frequently emphasizes the many additional benefits of endurance exercise in addition to giving our cells more fuel. Improved blood flow, increased oxygen consumption, and enhanced heart and lung function are just a few of these advantages. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), endurance exercise doesn't have to be done every day to receive these benefits. It can also increase metabolism, reduce cancer risk, and lengthen life. If you've been sedentary, the AHA advises beginning your exercise program gradually and starting with just 10 to 15 minutes per session with activities like walking, jogging, swimming, and biking. Over time, it is advised to build up to 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week, the AHA notes.

The AHA advises gradually working up to 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week. Spreading things out throughout the week is also preferable to packing it in on the weekends.

Getting Stronger

Even though the most recent study did not discover a cellular boost from strength training, this does not imply that this form of exercise is not beneficial. This form of exercise, also known as resistance training, has been shown to provide advantages like better muscle mass, increased strength, less low back discomfort, higher bone density, and decreased risk of falls. Strength training is especially crucial as you age because muscle mass normally declines with age while body fat percentage is likely to rise if you are inactive. It can even help people manage their blood sugar levels more effectively. Additionally, this kind of training improves your quality of life, aids in the management of chronic diseases, and may even help you become more analytically sound.

According to a 2018 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, having more muscle also has positive effects on other aspects of metabolism. In that study, after spending less than an hour lifting weights once a week, participants who did strength training had a significantly lower risk of heart attack or stroke. Additionally, resistance training does not necessarily require purchasing a set of dumbbells or joining a gym, according to the study's lead author, Duck-Chul Lee, Ph.D., an associate professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University.

“Lifting any weight that increases resistance on your muscles is the key, even if that means carrying heavy shopping bags,” Dr. Lee says.

Mix It Up

According to Kate Ayoub, DPT, a doctor of physical therapy and health coach at Own Your Movement, the best strategy is to engage in both endurance and resistance training in some capacity each week. This doesn't mean you have to turn going to the gym into a part-time job, but it is beneficial to start getting more movement into each day, she suggests. Finding opportunities to increase endurance and strength might include activities like going for a brisk walk. A fitness plan that includes more organized exercise should eventually be put together, she advises.

“The best first step for starting exercise is to find activities you enjoy doing, instead of ones you think you need to do,” suggests Ayoub. “Take time to explore more aerobic and strength exercises and see what resonates with you.”

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