Could resistance training be a better option for longevity than cardio exercise?

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While both weight training and cardio offer distinct advantages, the key to a long and healthy life lies in balancing the two. It is important to integrate both forms of exercise into your weekly routine to make sure that you are addressing all aspects of your health. 

Resistance (strength / weight) training and cardiovascular (cardio) exercise are both vital components of a balanced fitness regimen, and each of them offers its own distinct benefits. In a quest for longevity and a healthier life, regular physical activity is crucial, but which form of exercise helps us to live longer? While both offer significant health benefits, they contribute in different ways to extending our health span — the part of our life in which we are able to live healthily and actively.

A National Health and Nutrition Examination survey of four thousand adults revealed that even though any physical activity may have health benefits, static activities such as resistance training are more likely to reduce heart disease risks than dynamic activities such as walking, running and cycling. Resistance training is often neglected, or put into a place of less importance behind cardio workouts. While also building and maintaining muscle mass, resistance exercises like lifting weights or bodyweight training can help in boosting our metabolic rate which is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight as we age. Additionally, weight training is fundamental in strengthening bones and thus reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures in older adults. It also improves joint flexibility and balance, which are essential for preventing falls. Regular weight training has also been linked to improved mental health, including reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, and better cognitive function.

Cardio training, which includes activities like running, walking, cycling, and swimming, of course offers cardiovascular benefits. By strengthening the heart and improving circulation, cardio exercises help reduce the risk of heart diseases and also play a crucial role in controlling blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar, contributing to overall heart health and longevity. And in addition to its physical benefits, cardio training plays a major role in our mental health. It stimulates the release of endorphins, often termed as “happiness” hormones, which can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. It has been linked to improved sleep quality and stress reduction, both of which are critical for a healthy life span.

In summary, both resistance training and cardio offer unique and complementary benefits. Resistance training is more focused on building strength, muscle mass, and improving bone density, whereas cardio exercise is key for heart health, endurance, and calorie burning. A well rounded fitness routine should ideally includes a balance of both to achieve optimal health and fitness. And when we do this, together they create a synergistic effect that not only helps to extends our lifespan, but also enhances the quality of our life during those years.

My personal preference has always been to focus more on resistance training. However, we are all different, so to find the right balance for you it is important that you consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.

References:

Harvard Medical School. “Can exercise extend your life?”. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-exercise-extend-your-life-2019031316207

AARP. “7 Reasons Why Strength Training Is Key to a Long Life”. https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2022/strength-training-and-longevity.html

National Library of Medicine. “Survival of the fittest: VO2max, a key predictor of longevity?”. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29293447/

National Library of Medicine. “Training Strategies to Optimize Cardiovascular Durability and Life Expectancy”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10121111/

Harvard Medical School. “Strength training might lengthen life”. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/strength-training-might-lengthen-life

National Library of Medicine. “Training for Longevity: The Reverse J-Curve for Exercise”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7431070/

American College of Cardiology. “Research Shows Static Physical Activity More Beneficial Than Dynamic”. https://www.acc.org/Latest-in-Cardiology/Articles/2018/11/16/15/33/Research-Shows-Static-Physical-Activity-More-Beneficial-Than-Dynamic

Medical News Today. “How heavy lifting at work affects cardiovascular health”. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326939#4-different-types-of-physical-activity

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competition history

Ayda competes regularly in fitness competitions and is currently preparing for the 2023 North American championships.

NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
CPA Toronto, 2021

You’ve probably heard so many people say “I love what I do”, BUT in my case I can truly say it from my heart. I’ve competed in sports all my life, but it wasn’t so long ago that I really understood that actually I can only ever compete with myself.

“You are perfect, until compare yourself with someone else”

I started contest prep in 2011, and since then I didn’t stop competing. In some competitions I got first place, in some it went not so well, but every competition that I prepared for taught me something more about myself and helped me take the correct direction, which I believe has shaped my work and my life in such a positive way.

When I competed in my first bikini competition I had just moved from my home country Turkey to Canada, and was getting used to the Canadian lifestyle — and, of course, the language too, which was the hardest part for me. I always wanted to do a fitness or bikini competition, but when I was still in Turkey the work and cultural differences made it so hard to do.

So I was in Vancouver BC, working at Steve Nash Fitness Club, and one of my co-workers, who was a competitor herself, asked me “why you are not competing?” I started asking myself and questioning if I could do it? I’d never done anything like it before… Maybe you’re asking yourself the same questions right now! Of course I told myself “absolutely, I can’’. And my competition journey began!

Each show that I competed in gave me more knowledge about my body, and how I can improve. Of course, it’s not easy to correctly identify what’s missing with training and nutrition, and this learning process and all of the experiences pushed me to learn more… I’ve been a personal trainer since 1993, but I wanted more and began my nutrition studies. I finished my Comprehensive Nutrition and Sports Nutrition degrees.

And yes, I am still competing! You can see a list of all of the competitions that I’ve competed in further down this page. And right now, AGAIN, I am getting ready for my next show…!

I’ll warn you right now, it wasn’t easy at all. The easiest part was the training, which was already part of my daily life. But posing, dieting, supplementation, getting a bikini, finding a trainer… This was much tougher, not the mention the cost for the registration, jewelry, tanning, hair and make-up, they cost a lot too. 

But I wouldn’t let anything stop me, and right after my first show — WBFF in May, 2011 — I immediately started looking for the next show to compete in. I was hooked!

I am so happy to be able to help other competitors who are willing to work and improve their mind and health at the same time. My goal is to create healthy and happy bikini competitors, who want to challenge themselves and put in the work that needs to be done to reach their goals. There is really no easy way to get there… But there is a smart way.

I look forward to working together and sharing my knowledge with YOU to get you in the best shape of your LIFE!!!!! 

AYDA HAS COMPETED IN

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