Yoga vs. gym: Which workout makes you fitter?

//Yoga vs. gym: Which workout makes you fitter?
Yoga vs. the gym

The key to getting fit? Find a workout you like and stick with it. (Photo: L: LuckyImages; R: Kzenon/Shutterstock)

Is your favorite workout the best workout? That’s a question asked frequently by anyone who wants to get fit. Which exercise yields the best results?

A new study put two popular fitness routines to the test, yoga classes and gym workouts. Researchers from the University of Texas’ Health Science Center in San Antonio asked volunteers to try three different workouts. One group did yoga (focusing on stretching, balance and core strength), another did gym workouts (ramping up their heart rates on treadmills and other pieces of gym equipment), and the third group was asked to stay consistently active in whatever way they chose.

Each group exercised for one hour at a time and for three hours per week.

GET MOVING: 10 cardio exercises

Dr. David Hughes, assistant professor and clinical exercise physiologist at UT and the lead researcher for the study, thought his gym workouts would be the clear winner.

But the real winner? That surprised everyone.

Hughes found that all of the workouts were equally effective in terms of fitness. Each participant was tested for body fat and physical function before and after the study, and the results were similar across the board. All the participants in the study lost roughly the same amount of body fat: about 4 percent. The participants in the yoga group excelled in one way over their gym rat peers: they were better at stretching and reaching.

According to the study, the key to fitness is consistency. No matter the workout, if you keep with it, you will gain fitness.

“You can just go out and be active, 10 minutes at a time, but for heaven’s sake, find something you enjoy and lock in and do it and if you don’t enjoy it, experiment until you find what you do,” said Hughes.

So which workout is the best workout? It’s the one that gets you out the door.