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Aren’t they the same or similar types of exercise?

If not what is the difference?

Is one better than the other?

Most often when we think about exercise we think aerobic. That is in part because of the high energy classes available at most gyms. Aerobic exercise is not confined to those classes, however. For most people, low to moderate exercise or exertion is generally aerobic. So what is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise? In the simplest terms the difference comes down to the oxygen. With aerobic exercise oxygen is carried through your breath to the muscles giving them the energy needed to sustain the effort. Oxygen is not present with anaerobic exercise.

There seems to be a debate on whether aerobic exercise or anaerobic exercise is better. It seems that it just would depend on your goals, body type and your fitness level. There are some approaches that may yield better results than others. The chances are that some will swear by one type of exercise while others will swear by another.

Modern exercise science shows that all exercise is not created equal. In other words, it’s no longer as simple as inputs and outputs.    So if your goal is to lose weight, this begs the question—what is the best exercise to burn fat? While not a simple answer, a look into aerobic versus anaerobic exercise could help shed some light on how to approach your workouts.

Many people get confused between the technical terms – aerobic and anaerobic exercise. It’s really quite simple and we’ve broken it down for you with some great examples that you can implement in your routines.

Aerobic exercise is a form of activity that involves low intensity but over a period of time. If you go to the gym then you should be familiar with its other name ‘cardio’. It is also any activity that causes your heart, lungs and muscles to work overtime and you’re able to sustain it for at least a few minutes, then it’s considered aerobic or cardio exercise.

What are some of the benefits of aerobic exercise?   (1) Doing regular aerobic exercise will help your body to burn off more calories and is the only form of exercise that’ll directly burn off fat; (2) It makes your respiratory system stronger by improving the efficiency of how your system supplies oxygen; (3) It reduces the build-up of plaque in your arteries and keeps them clear by raising HDL cholesterol (good) and lowering LDL cholesterol (bad); (4) The strongest muscle in your body – your heart, will become stronger. This means that blood is pumped around your entire body more efficiently which results in effective removal of toxins and waste materials from your body; (5) Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis and stroke are all conditions that can prevented by doing regular aerobic exercise; and (6) Protects you from illnesses by strengthening your immune system.

Examples of Aerobic Exercise include: (a) Low intensity swimming; (b) Cycling; (c) Walking; (d) Rowing; (e) Rope skipping; and (f) Jogging.

You can improve on your aerobic conditioning by increasing the pace, duration and distance at which you’re performing a certain activity.   So if you’ve been jogging for 3 miles twice a week for a few weeks, then you should increase this distance to 3.5 miles and then increase it again when you feel you can push it a bit further. Alternatively, you stick to the same distance but complete your jog in a shorter timescale.

Explosiveness and intensity are attributes that best describes what anaerobic exercise consists of. It’s utilizing a group of muscles in your body to perform a certain activity to maximum effect.

This means that your body can only perform this activity of a short time span, around 2 minutes. Any more than that then an aerobic element kicks in.

What are the benefits of anaerobic exercise? (1) It can help prevent healthy problems such as type 2 diabetes, low back pain, and arthritis. Just like aerobic, anaerobic exercise also strengthens your immune system; (2) Helps to shape your body for a better appearance. Strength training is the most effective way to build and tone muscles giving you a healthier and stronger appearance; (3) Reduces body fat through building lean muscles which provides you with a higher metabolism used for burning more calories; and (4) Increases bone density and strength by going through intense training that puts pressure on your bones structure. Your bones will adapt and become stronger instead of becoming soft and brittle.

Examples of Anaerobic Exercise Include: (a) Lifting weights; (b) Pull ups; (c) Sprinting; and (4)   Jump squats

The more explosive activities that you do, then the stronger your body will naturally become. Whenever a part of your body aches the next morning after perform a form of anaerobic exercise, you must allow your muscles to heal and you’ll be able to perform at a higher level next time.

In order to reach your physical fitness peak, you need to train on both aerobic and anaerobic exercise as they go hand in hand with each other. You shouldn’t neglect either one because they’re both essential to maintain a healthy body and mind.

There are several ways that the terms aerobic and anaerobic exercise get tossed around. The more formal definitions of the two revolve around the level of oxygen consumption needed to perform a given activity. During aerobic exercise there is sufficient oxygen intake needed to sustain the current level of activity without using additional energy from another energy source.

During anaerobic exercise, oxygen consumption is not sufficient to supply the energy demands being placed on your muscles. Therefore, your muscles begin to break down sugars, resulting in higher lactic acid production.

However, there is a simpler way to differentiate the two. Aerobic exercise is light activity you can sustain over long periods of time, such as jogging. Anaerobic activity is bursts of activity for short periods of time, such as sprinting.   Both types of exercise burn fat and boost the metabolism that will last for hours after the workout. The key to getting the best results is to have a workout that incorporates both.  Aerobic exercise increases your endurance and cardiac health while anaerobic exercise will not only help you burn fat but also help you gain lean muscle mass.

Many group classes, like Jazzercise, incorporate both exercises. Aerobic and anaerobic segments are placed in perfect balance to give you maximum fat burning benefits. Each Jazzercise class has choreographed movements that burn fat aerobically and build lean muscle anaerobically.  All the exercises are carefully designed and choreographed to music to achieve these goals. The tempo of the music along with the style of the moves affects heart rate. The cardio portion of class is an excellent form of aerobic exercise while the strength training is anaerobic and will help you develop lean muscle that burns more fat.

Exercise requires energy. When we exercise aerobically our bodies use glycogen and fat as fuel. This low to moderate level of exertion can be sustained over long periods. As you breathe more heavily with exertion carbon dioxide is expelled from your body. Lactic acid is not produced as it is with anaerobic exercise.

It is difficult to overstate the benefits of aerobic exercise. It not only improves overall health and quality of life, but may also extend your life. Aerobic exercise burns fat, improves mood, strengthens the heart and lungs and reduces your risk of diabetes.

 Oxygen is not present with anaerobic exercise. When we exercise anaerobically glycogen is used as fuel. Once all the glycogen has been depleted (usually in about two hours) you can expect to hit the proverbial wall. Endurance athletes avoid this performance buster with carbo loading before exercise (which when converted to sugar gives more energy) and supplements during exercise to sustain energy.

During anaerobic exercise your body builds up lactic acid, which causes discomfort and fatigue at sustained levels. For this reason anaerobic exercise or high intensity exercise happens in short bursts. It may be helpful to consider the difference between a sprinter (anaerobic) and a marathoner (aerobic). Sprinting is an all-out effort that is sustained for a comparatively short period while marathoning is a sustained effort.

Anaerobic exercise helps build lean muscle mass. Calories are burned more efficiently in bodies that have more muscle. Anaerobic exercise is especially helpful for weight management in that it helps to burn more calories even in a body at rest. Anaerobic exercise can also help build endurance and fitness levels.

Anaerobic exercise is very high intensity or at your maximum level of exertion. Examples include sprinting and weight lifting.   Consider using intervals, aerobic with some bursts of anaerobic exercise mixed in periodically to improve weight loss and overall fitness.

 kathy Kiefer


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