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Does strength training help your heart and lungs?

Strength Training and Weight Loss

Obesity is one of the leading causes of diminished heart and lung function: Extra weight on your critical organs is just too much to bear. But as your muscles tone and strengthen, you become a calorie-burning machine. It's not just the calories that you burn during your workout; it's the calories that you keep burning long after your workout has ended. When you stress the muscles during strength training, you actually tear them, and it's during your recovery time that the muscles repair and build. This recovery time increases your calorie burning potential by creating a metabolic spike.

While strength training doesn't directly increase blood oxygen, weight loss accomplished through strength training does. Increased blood oxygen makes you feel all around better. You feel rested, serene and full of energy.

Further streamline your calorie-burning machine by combining cardio and strength training. You can do cardio exercises every day, while strength training can only be done every other day in order to allow muscles time to recover. Combining the two means burning even more calories. Cardio also increases your heart rate, which makes your body burn even more calories. Not to mention that sweating during cardio exercise pushes out toxins and cleanses the body. And just like strength training, cardio improves your mood.

Strength training should come before cardio in your workout routine. If not, you'll likely run out of energy and not be able to get through your strength training routine. Also, consider including interval training, where you move back and forth from weight training to cardio in about five-minute intervals.

When combining strength training with cardio exercise, pick an activity that you find particularly enjoyable so that you can stick with it. Consider running, hiking, biking, rollerblading or some of the more active forms of yoga. It's about staying active as much as possible.

Learn how to get started in your strength training routine on the next page.