Cardio v. Strength. Which Do Americans Prefer?

Some love to run. Some love to lift. What do Americans, in general, prefer?

The CDC recently published their latest figures on the percentage of Americans meeting Federal 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines:

For Aerobic Activity
Do one of the following:

  • 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (such as brisk walking or tennis)
  • 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) each week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (such as jogging or swimming laps)
  • An equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity

For Strength Activity

  • Do muscle-strengthening activities (such as lifting weights or using resistance bands) that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.


Going back to 1998, the CDC data show that TWICE as many Americans met aerobic guidelines as they did strength guidelines.

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These numbers suggest that Americans prefer cardio over strength training by 2-to-1.

But, there may be other explanations for this pattern. For example:

  • Running/walking is more accessible and cheaper than going to a gym,
  • Running/walking comes naturally, whereas lifting weights require learning proper technique,
  • There are many ways to meet cardio guidelines, such as playing tennis and swimming, but strength training variations may be limited or less familiar to most.

Share with us, what do you prefer? Cardio or Strength?


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