Monday, October 4, 2010

Aerobic -vs- Anaerobic

Typically, people will associate running, biking, swimming, walking, dancing and other similar activities as aerobic. On the flip side, they refer to any weightlifting exercise as being anaerobic. While this is true for the most part, what many people don't understand is that these very same activities can fall into each exercise category. What? How can that be? Well, let me explain.

Whether a particular exercise is aerobic or anaerobic is dependent on the intensity of the exercise. To use running as an example, if you were out on the road jogging at your usual rate and doing this for your usual 30-45 minutes, you would be doing an aerobic exercise. On the other, if you went out running sprints with the world record holder of the 200 meter dash, you will in all likelihood find yourself engaged in what could now be called an anaerobic exercise. You also will find it is somewhat physically more uncomfortable to do this type of exercise (this would be the understatement of the year). With anaerobic exercise (anaerobic means "without oxygen), you are out of breath within a very short period of time and you are unable to sustain the activity for more that a brief interval. In contrast, an aerobic exercise is one which increases heart rate and breathing, but no so much that you can't keep going on with what you are doing for upwards to an hour or more. Likewise, there are some "anaerobic" exercises that can be turned into aerobic exercises by decreasing the intensity level and performing the exercise over a sustained period of time.

As you can see, running, biking, swimming, and the other activities mentioned above are all great aerobic activities and will lead to better fitness. I hope you also can see that these same activities can quickly be turned into anaerobic exercises by simply increasing the intensity. Keep in mind that if you are doing any kind of high intensity form of exercise, pay careful attention to what your body is telling you and by all means, get a physical before you engage in any kind of training like this.

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Train Hard!

Adam Freeman
Master Personal Trainer

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