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But if you had to choose one, Clark advises, pick strength training.“Cardio is more digestible, it’s less intimidating, but people also get less and less out of it over time,” she says.“One is that you’ll become muscle-bound”—so bulked up that your body becomes rigid.That myth was somewhat dispelled when athletes who started strength-training saw that they could hit a ball farther, jump higher and run faster, Tucker says.
While about half of people do the recommended amount of aerobic activity each week, only 20% also do the muscle-strengthening moves that work major muscle groups.
Yet the scientific benefits are stacking up in favor of it, from bone protection to disease prevention, and it appears to have special benefits for women.
“There are so many misconceptions about strength and resistance training,” says Larry Tucker, a professor in exercise sciences at Brigham Young University.
“Gradually we started realizing there are benefits beyond sports.” But women in particular are neglecting strength training at their own peril.
It’s the only kind of exercise that makes muscles bigger, which lets them generate more strength and force, faster. Young people tend to take for granted the day-to-day parts of life that require strength, like walking up stairs or picking up a baby.
Bones are constantly remodeling, explains Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina.