Aerobic versus anaerobic exercise

Whenever you exercise your body is performing one of two different types of exercise - aerobic or anaerobic exercise. The words aerobic or anaerobic refer to the way in which your body uses oxygen when you exercise. You might be thinking “So what who cares!” Well, you should care if you want to get the best results when you exercise. Often when someone decides I want to get fit, be healthier or exercise and lose some weight, the first inclination is to run around the block as hard as they can (until they get tired) or go to the gym and train as hard and quick as they can. In fact a friend once said to me “I tried going to the gym, I ran on the treadmill and after a few minutes I felt sick and had to stop, so I new this wasn’t for me.” When I questioned her it turned out that she ran as fast as she could and this was the first time she had done any exercise in a long time. What she didn’t realise was that wasn’t the best way for her to get fit and lose weight. Indeed, her intentions were honourable but her actions were slightly off track.

When you begin to lightly exercise, such as walking or jogging, your body is in aerobic exercise. During aerobic exercises your body is able to work in a sustained manner for long periods of time using oxygen and burning fat as a source of fuel. The term aerobic literally means ‘with oxygen’ whereas anaerobic means ‘without oxygen’. On the other hand during short high intensity workouts your body muscles get their energy by using available body sugar. During such workouts your body needs energy and it needs it fast. As a result a waste product called lactic acid is produced as the sugar is burned up without the presence of oxygen. Your body is able to dispose of lactic acid, but when the build up occurs too rapidly, fatigue kicks in because your body is expending energy faster than it can replace it by metabolising the oxygen.

The benefits of anaerobic exercise lie in that it helps in increasing your metabolism and building more muscle mass. It also helps to burn calories (though not necessarily fat). Anaerobic exercise is ideal for athletes who need to work with shorter bursts of power at a higher intensity. Examples include weightlifting and sprinting. Nevertheless, aerobic exercise is good for those who want to burn fat, reduce high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and arthritis. Aerobic exercises are generally less stressful on your body, muscles, heart, joints and bones and have many good lasting advantages that will help in life. Examples include walking, jogging, cycling and swimming.

Ideally it is good if you can add both aerobic and anaerobic exercise to your routines. And if you haven’t done any exercise in a while, then start with aerobic first. For those that have particular health requirements or concerns, it is always wise to contact your specialist.

God bless and protect

Quote of the week:
“Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.” - Earl of Derby


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