Cardio and Strength Training Combine to Improve Health

22Feb

While the step aerobics classes in your facility promote cardiovascular fitness and improve body composition, they lack the strengthening benefits of resistance training. A combination of the two provides the most efficient way to condition women’s bodies while still allowing them to enjoy step aerobics, according to a new study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (Feb. 2001).

The study assessed 35 healthy, active women for body composition, aerobic fitness, muscular strength, endurance and power, and then randomly assigned them to four groups that either: 1) performed 25 minutes of only step aerobics, 2) combined 25 minutes of step aerobics with a multiple-set upper- and lower-body resistance-training routine, 3) performed 40 minutes of step aerobics or 4) only performed activities of daily living.

After 12 weeks of training, all groups reported significant improvements in peak VO2 capacity and reductions in pre-exercise heart rates (by eight to nine beats per minute) and body fat (by 5 to 6 percent). Both the combination group and the 40-minute step-class group reduced resting diastolic blood pressure. The largest results in all categories belonged to the combination group, and only the combination group recorded a significant improvement in muscular strength (by 21 percent) and endurance (by 11 percent). While all training groups increased lower-body power (11 to 14 percent), only the combination group significantly increased upper-body power (by 32 percent).

These findings underscore the importance of including resistance training with cardiovascular workouts for women. A vital component in women’s overall health, strong muscles aid in fall prevention, bone health and body performance. Combining resistance training with your step classes can help ensure that your members meet their needs for cardiovascular as well as muscular fitness.

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