This is an age old debate isn't it? With hardcore enthusiasts on both sides, it's probably one that isn't ever going to end either! For the rest of us who are not really invested in or obsessing over specific workout routines, and are rather looking to explore different experiences, there is a lot that both can offer.
Here's our candid and practical take to help you arrive at a conclusion based on facts!
We are taught to have goals in almost every sphere of our lives like academics, sports or work. So teams aim to win each match, with a goal to win the tournament. We aim to ace our exams, with a goal of getting admission in a coveted institute.
If your boss enquired about your goals, would you say "to work"? How would you like to hear Virat Kohli say "We aim to play today"? But that's exactly what most of us set as our fitness goals - "Umm..To get fit!" or "To lose weight".
If you are serious about fitness, set realistic goals with specific timelines after consulting your doctor and fitness professionals. Something like:
• Gain or Lose 5 kg in 2 months
• Gain 5 kg of muscle in 8 months
• Improve stamina in 3 months
• Feel a general sense of well-being and less fatigued or stressed
• Get healthier by bringing my blood sugar/cholesterol levels down by the end of this year.
Now that you are clear about your goals, let us first look at each workout and independently gauge their strengths.
• An all week gym workout where you expend about 500 calories a day can get you on the path to losing weight at the rate of 0.5 kg per week. This is especially useful to those who are significantly overweight and are looking to lose weight fast.
• A strong cardio workout in the gym gets your heart pumping faster and strengthens your heart muscles thus increasing long term heart-health and bringing your blood pressure under control. 30 minutes at a gym 5 days a week has been shown to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
• A gym workout with squat racks, benches and barbells are the best solution for those looking to build muscles and strength. So, for those looking to have visibly stronger arms, a flat belly and a muscular physique, a gym for beginners routine can get you there.
• The importance of yoga in modern life cannot be underestimated. As you tone your body, you also create lasting connections between your mind and your body. This self-awareness helps you make better choices about what you eat and enhances your activity levels throughout the day.
• Yoga allows you to sport a leaner look. The constant stretching of your muscles strengthens them, thus giving you a healthier and leaner appearance that exudes confidence and increases self-acceptance.
• You can do away with aches and pains by practicing Yoga. Yoga increases your flexibility with twisting, stretching and folding exercises and also strengthens your muscles and joints and keep them functioning optimally.
• Yoga and meditation go hand in hand. Breathing well and consistently is built into every Yoga exercise and asana. This gives you the means to not only perform your workouts in a calm manner, but also allows us to handle stress better in our daily life.
• Gym workouts are traditionally much more tiring. At the end of a gym workout you tend to feel exhausted and hungry. Yoga workouts are relaxed and calming. They thus leave you with a revitalized feeling and aid your body's internal processes.
• Advanced gym workouts involve a lot of grunting, clenching teeth and grimacing. Yoga workouts are largely silent, peaceful and encourage you to develop and enhanced sense of self-awareness.
• The benefits of yoga for students are many since the asanas or postures encourage gradual expertise built over a period of time. Meditative poses help students to relax and handle the stress of academia better. Since they are not testosterone-driven exercises, students don't feel a sense of fatigue from competing with one another.
• Cardio is built into every gym workout and experts have determined that cardio activities are very essential for a healthy life. Traditional yoga does not involve cardio workouts. However, you can build in cardio to a yoga routine by trying Power Yoga, Suryanamaskar (sun salutations), and more.
• A gym workout is best suited for a person looking to bulk up or add significant muscle mass to specific parts of his or her body (like arms, abs, etc.). Yoga does not involve the use of external weights to enhance specific muscles, however there are advanced yoga asanas which ask you to carry your entire body weight on your arms!
• Yoga is ideal for a beginner workout at home without any equipment. Yoga can be practiced anywhere, at home, office or a nearby park! A gym requires your commitment to travel to a place because it involves the use of specific training equipment.
Before you move on...
So, which workout works best for you can only be determined by what would help you achieve your goals. Many successful fitness enthusiasts recommend a combination of a gym and yoga routine during the week (3 days of Gym or Cardio exercises, with 2 days of Yoga), thus bringing you the best of both worlds!
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