If you’ve decided to embark on a weight loss program it can be difficult to decide which type of workout will better help you achieve your goals: yoga or cardio. The simple fact is that when it comes to straight up fat burning running is king. You’ll burn about 100 calories per km and if you run faster and cover a greater distance you’ll burn even more.
At the same time, however, when it comes to building endurance, toning muscles, reducing stress and keeping the weight off, cardio takes a back seat to yoga. So the issue is not a simple matter of which is best, it’s a matter of which is best for the different aspects of weight loss and the maintenance of your new trim, healthy physique.
As we said there are few if any exercises that can match running when it comes to pure, fat-burning abilities. Even at its most vigorous you can’t realistically expect more than about ⅔ the calorie burn from yoga that you would get from a long, sweaty run.
Where running isn’t so great – and yoga excels – is in helping you shape your new trimmer self. Another downside to running it’s this: it’s hard on the body. If you’re 25 then getting out and pounding the pavement for an hour isn’t such a big deal. But if you’re 45 and trying to get back into shape you may wind up with swollen knees and an aching back after even a moderate run.
Most health experts suggest you need between 45 and 60 minutes of vigorous exercise per day if you hope to experience significant weight loss from that exercise. Again, for a young person running that long typically won’t represent a huge hurdle, but for the parents of that young person keeping up with the offspring isn’t going to be easy and it may not be wise.
In fact, people over 40 who engage in vigorous running may expose heart problems they didn’t know they had. They’re also more prone to injury and those injuries take longer to heal properly; if indeed they ever do.
It must be said upfront that while a vigorous cardio workout like running will provide maximum calorie burn, there are certain types of yoga that are not far behind. Vinyasa yoga for example, utilizes breathing exercises combined with a continuous stream of moderate to intense poses that burn calories.
Ashtanga and Power yoga are two more forms that will get the heart beating and burn off calories at a generous clip. Ashtanga employs a series of poses that gradually escalate in intensity while a Power yoga class combines the highest intensity aspects of both Vinyasa and Ashtanga to create a single, more intense, gym-like workout that appeals particularly to Westerners.
Variety: The Spice of Life and More
As you may have surmised by now your best bet when it comes to effective weight loss is usually to mix things up. By combining a schedule of moderate to vigorous cardio with a yoga practice that allows you to build foundational strength, endurance and flexibility you’ll be well on your way to losing the weight and, more importantly, keeping it off.
We say “more importantly” because retaining a newly trim and toned body is often the most challenging aspect of slimming down since people tend lose focus once they achieve their weight loss goals. Building a good, regular yoga practice will allow you to transcend complacency and lock in the beneficial results from the weight loss while helping to reduce your stress levels and achieve a more balanced and harmonious outlook.
The Importance of Diet
All the cardio, yoga, weight training, aerobics and CrossFit on earth won’t be of much good, however, if your diet is composed of fried chicken and ice cream. The healthier your diet the easier your weight loss regime will be and the easier it will be to keep the weight off once you lose it.
In fact, if your weight loss program includes significant dietary modifications you may find you lose nearly as much weight that way as you do through your cardio or yoga work.
But again, yoga will help you tone your body as you lose the pounds and enable you to lose weight while simultaneously building strength and endurance. And by adopting the yogic diet you bring your body back into line with nature and assist your exercise regime in creating a more properly balanced inner you.
Combining cardio with yoga will allow you to achieve the kind of lean, sculpted body you’ve always known was inside you. You’ll enjoy more energy, an improved outlook, lower levels of stress and reduced cravings for the kind of anxiety driven junk food binges that get so many of us in trouble.