When people think about exercise, they most often think about aerobic exercise. Activities such as walking, running, swimming, dancing, hiking, cycling, stair climbing, and the list goes on. Low to moderate type exercise that gets our heart rates up is the typical workout that most people participate in. However, there is also another type of exercise, anaerobic exercise. So, what is the difference? Let’s find out.
When we work our bodies aerobically, our bodies require energy. How do we get that energy? Our body provides us with glycogen and fat to use as fuel. Any type of aerobic exercise that is a low to moderate level of exertion, can be sustained for long periods of time. A good example of aerobic training is a marathon runner. The sustained effort of running for a long distance can be held as the intensity level is much lower.
Anaerobic means there is no presence of oxygen. Generally anaerobic exercise happens in short bursts. Glycogen is used as the main fuel source and once that glycogen has become depleted, you get that feeling of ‘hitting the wall.’ During bouts of anaerobic activity, the body builds up lactic acid which can cause discomfort and fatigue. A sprinter is a good example of an anaerobic exercise as the activity is short in duration.
Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic activity trains the heart, lungs and cardiovascular system to process and deliver oxygen more quickly and efficiently to every part of the body. Aerobic exercise burns fat, improves our cardiovascular health, helps decrease our cholesterol levels, decreases our risk of diabetes, and enhances our mood and cognitive functioning.
Types of aerobic training:
Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise
Calories are burned more efficiently when we have more muscle mass and this is why anaerobic exercise is helpful in weight loss and management. Anaerobic exercise burns more calories in a shorter period of time with using carbohydrates as their main energy source. It helps develop stronger muscles, improves your VO2 max (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise), which in turn improves your cardio-respiratory fitness, and increases your capacity to withstand the buildup of waste substances and remove them from the body.
Types of anaerobic training:
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic – The Verdict
At the end of the day, what matters is your fitness goals. Your goals will always determine your workout. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, but if you want to obtain maximum benefits, you should do both. Some activities include both aerobic and anaerobic systems, while other activities are strictly stand alone. You can always choose to do an aerobic workout one day such as a fitness class or cycling and then do an anaerobic activity the next day.
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