Both running and weightlifting can help you burn fat and strengthen muscles, but you shouldn't be doing these exercises in equal proportions. Although individuals' exercise requirements vary slightly, cardiovascular exercises such as running should generally make up the core of a fitness routine, whether at the gym or at home.
Benefits of Weightlifting
Strength training is resistance-based muscle training that uses weights, machines, bands and other forms of resistance to strengthen the muscles. Weightlifting is among the most popular forms of strength training, and lifting weights does not typically require a steep learning curve. Regular weightlifting can increase the strength of bones and muscles, burn body fat, increase muscle tone and increase your stamina. The Mayo Clinic points out that strength training may also reduce your risk of injury during other forms of exercise.
Benefits of Running
Cardiovascular exercise -- often called aerobic exercise -- is low- to moderate-intensity exercise that elevates the heart rate, exercises the lungs and is sustained for a relatively long period of time. Cardiovascular exercise can help you burn calories, thus reducing fat all over your body. It also improves the strength of your heart and may lower blood pressure and pulse over time. People who engage in regular cardiovascular activity have a lowered risk of stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular problems, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that healthy adults participate in strength-training activities at least two days per week. Because many people get aerobic exercise outside of the gym -- for example, walking or jogging -- you may need to focus on your strength-training routine at the gym, particularly if you only go once or twice a week. If, however, you go to the gym daily, spend most of your energy on cardiovascular exercise and set aside two sessions per week for weightlifting.
How frequently you should engage in cardiovascular exercise is partially dependent upon the intensity of the exercise. For adults involved in vigorous activities such as running, the CDC recommends a minimum of 75 minutes of aerobics every week. If, however, you only run once or twice per week and normally engage in low-intensity exercise such as walking, the CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise. Most people break these exercise sessions into 20- or 30-minute blocks.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.