Health Tips: Do you get more fit from aerobics or strength training?


Brie and Nikki Bella are identical twins who entertained folks as a professional wrestling tag team for the WWE. Nikki says lifting weights works to trim her down and stay strong. Brie says staying fit takes a mix -- say, a 14-minute barre routine on busy days and two hours at the gym when there’s time. They’re an example of what researchers from Australia found when they looked at how 30 sets of identical twins responded to endurance (aerobics) and resistance (strength) training. 

Their study, published in the Journal of Physiology, reveals that the response to exercise is highly individual, even for identical twins. That helps explain why some people say “Sweating to the oldies” builds endurance and muscle, while others find it leaves them as untrained as when they started their ongoing routine -- and why other folks find that strength training builds muscle and endurance, but aerobics don’t. 

If you’re frustrated by how slowly you’re getting into shape, the study also found that almost everyone can improve fitness with the right exercise program. “Low-responders to one mode may be ‘rescued’ by switching to an alternate mode of exercise,” say the researchers. So, if after three months of aerobic or strength training, you aren’t much more fit than when you started, try switching. But we suggest you don’t abandon either workout style completely. Choose your core workout (three-plus days a week) and add in one or two days of the complementary style to avoid boredom and achieve maximum agility, strength and cardio fitness. 

Early cognitive dysfunction linked to CVD, diabetes, smoking

In an episode of “The Simpsons,” Homer, who never completed high school, decides to take an exam to finally get his degree. The problem is, his lifestyle choices have made his memory a little shabby. “All right, brain,” he pleads, “you don’t like me and I don’t like you, but let’s just do this, and I can get back to killing you with beer.” At least Homer was smart enough to know his notoriously poor habits were hurting his academic performance. 

A recent study, published in the journal Neurology, suggests cardiovascular disease (Homer had a triple bypass in season four), diabetes and smoking in middle age are reliable predictors of early decline in memory, executive function and processing speed. 

The 2,675 middle-aged adults in the study took thinking and memory tests at its start and then at a follow-up five years later. Overall, people with all three risk factors were nearly three times as likely to experience a faster cognitive decline in middle age as those without the risk factors. Specifically, more than 10% of those with diabetes had an accelerated midlife decline in brain power, compared with 4.7% of those without diabetes. Nearly 8% of current smokers had faster cognitive decline, compared with 4.3% of those who never smoked.

The study underscores the importance of knowing your numbers -- blood pressure, LDL cholesterol level, blood sugar and BMI -- from your 20s on, and using your cognitive powers to discover the joys of healthy nutrition, physical activity and steering clear of all smoking.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit


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