Spinning, stepping or running? What are the best workout routines?

Q. My boyfriend says that running is the best way to lose weight and get fit. However, I don't like running and prefer to take step or Spinning classes, along with lifting weights. Is my program as effective as running?

A. Actually, your program is more effective because you combine a cardio workout with your strength training routine, says San Diego fitness consultant Richard Cotton, M.A., a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise. Running is an excellent way to burn calories and strengthen your heart and lungs, but it won't build muscle mass or strength.

Here are some fitness tips gathered from research:

  • runners who don't lift weights lose muscle at the same rate sedentary people do – about 30 percent from age 30 to 70.
  • people who lift weights regularly as part of a strength training routine can preserve most of their muscle mass throughout life, maintain a higher metabolism and are less prone to weight gain.

You can tell your boyfriend that running places more stress on the body than step or Spinning do, increasing the risk for joint injuries. "Running beats you up more," Cotton says. Both Spinning and step are plenty effective as cardio workout and calorie burning routines, although with step there is a "point of diminishing returns," Cotton says. "You can always run or pedal faster, but you can't always step faster or higher." Alternating step and group cycling classes is a great idea.

Bottom-line Fitness Tips

#1- You'll only stick with workout routines you enjoy.

#2 - If you thrive on the energy of group exercise and are inspired by the instructor, you've made the best choice for you.

Count on Shape for your cardio workout routines – and your strength training routine info!

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