By Dr. Kristie

Are you making fitness a part of your daily life? Exercise is a critical part of maintaining good health and vitality. One study showed that regular exercise can add up to three and a half years to your life even if you start as late as age fifty. Not to mention the important role exercise plays in controlling weight, improving self confidence, and increasing the ability to carry out daily functions effortlessly. The most effective fitness plans will include a strength training workout plan as well as a cardio workout to burn calories, burn fat, and kick the metabolism into high gear. If you want maximum effectiveness from your fitness routine, which should you do first, cardio or strength training?

While this question is open to debate, most evidence suggests that doing a cardio workout first may be the most effective for optimizing fitness. If you do your strength training workout first, there’s a good chance that the lower body muscles you need for your cardio workout will be fatigued making it less likely you’ll work out hard enough to get your heart rate up in a range that will maximize benefits to your heart.

If you want an effective workout and you want to do it all in a single day, start by doing a thirty minute cardio workout such as treadmill work, jogging, or a slow run for thirty minutes. When that’s done, head over the weight room for some strength and resistance training. Although you’re burning calories and fat during the cardio workout, strength training is actually a bigger long term metabolism booster since you’ll burn calories even after you’ve completed your workout. The combination of the two routines will give you a complete, fat burning, muscle toning workout.

If you have the luxury of being able to exercise every day of the week, you may want to do a cardio workout one day followed by a strength training routine on alternate days. This leaves one day off for rest. The advantage of this workout schedule is you’ll be able to devote a full session to one type of workout without the possibility of being too fatigued.

If you’re extremely short on time and can only devote short periods of time to exercise, you can get a good workout by doing interval training. This involves alternating your cardio workout with strength training in short, intense bursts. This method burns maximum calories, works your heart harder, and really pumps up your metabolism. To do this type of workout, alternate five minutes of fast paced cardio with five minutes of strength work. Alternate back and forth without resting for twenty to thirty minutes. When you perform this type of workout on a regular basis, you should see and feel results quickly. Most experts now believe that interval training is the most effective for burning calories, body fat, and increasing endurance.

As always, check with your doctor before starting any of these workout plans.

As you can see, you have a variety of options for getting a good cardio workout as well as effective strength training. Now, it’s up to you to do it.