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What is Aerobic Training?

aerobics running

Simply put, the word aerobics means "with oxygen". While this definition may sound quite vague, once you have a better understanding of what aerobics actually is, it will make more sense.

Aerobic training can be considered any physical activity that has the ability to elevate your heart rate to it's target heart rate and maintain that level for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes.

Achieving an "aerobic effect" can be defined as participating in a physical activity that elevates your heart rate to your target heart rate and maintains that level for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes.

For example, an individual that performs a running routine that elevates their heart rate to their target heart rate for 20, or more, consecutive minutes will achieve an aerobic effect.

Aerobic Activities

With this basic understanding of aerobic training and achieving an aerobic effect it is easy to define the types of physical activities that are aerobic in nature. Below is a list of several physical activities that fall under the category of aerobic training and are designed to promote achieving an aerobic effect:

  • Briskly walking

  • Jogging

  • Running

  • Cycling or mountain biking

  • Swimming

  • Exercising on a treadmill

  • Exercising on an elliptical machine

  • Exercising on a rowing machine

  • Performing numerous types of aerobic classes

  • Jumping rope

  • Climbing stairs or exercising on a stair climber

The previous list of aerobic activities is only a partial list of physical activities that promote an aerobic effect; as there are countless activities that will achieve the same result. For example, swinging a pick ax to prepare the soil for a garden is an aerobic activity that can produce an aerobic effect. As is evident, the types of aerobic activities that can be performed are limitless.

Many types of aerobic activities include strength training, stretching, and promote improvements on coordination and balance. In addition, all aerobic activities will promote safe and effective weight loss. Elevating your heart rate is the primary focus of all aerobic activities and reaching your target heart rate, and maintaining that level for at least 20 consecutive minutes, is confirmation that you have received an effective workout. When you perform an aerobic activity your entire cardiovascular system, heart and lungs, work together to ensure that your entire body receives enough oxygen to continuously perform the activity.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Training

Muscle Toning

There are unique health and fitness benefits associated with regularly performing both aerobic and anaerobic exercise activities. For this reason, it is our believe at Fitnesshealth101.com that all fitness exercise routines should include regularly performing both aerobic and anaerobic activities.

This being said, it is important to understand the differences between aerobic and anaerobic exercise activities, the specific health and fitness benefits associated with each, and what types of physical activities are considered aerobic and what types of activities are considered anaerobic. Once this understanding is obtained it will be simple to construct a fitness routine that includes both.

The word anaerobic is defined as "in the absence of oxygen". When performing an anaerobic activity the body is required to produce energy to perform the activity without using oxygen as it's primary means of energy production.

In general, aerobic activities are performed for a longer period of time and at a moderate level of intensity. Anaerobic activities are most often performed for a significantly shorter period of time and at a high level of intensity.

All aerobic activities should be performed for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes, or longer. This duration of aerobic activity will allow the individual to elevate to their heart rate to their target heart rate. Once the individual has elevated their heart rate to their target heart rate level they will want to maintain that level for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes. By doing so, the individual will achieve an aerobic effect.

In contrast, anaerobic exercises are typically performed at a very high level of intensity and for 2 consecutive minutes or less. However, through proper training, longer periods of anaerobic training can be achieved.


Did You Know?

The word aerobics is defined as "with oxygen". When an individual is performing an aerobic activity their body uses oxygen to produce the energy required to actually perform the exercise.

One of the main physiological differences between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is how the metabolic process occurs. While both aerobic and anaerobic activities produce energy through glycolysis (i.e. the conversion of glucose into pyruvate), the substance that is used to break down the glucose is different. When performing an aerobic activity oxygen is the catalyst used for breaking down the glucose. However, when performing an anaerobic activity the body utilizes a molecule that is stored in the muscle tissue called phosphocreatine (also known as creatine phosphate) to break down the glucose.

When performing an aerobic exercise an increase in your heart rate and your level of respiration will occur. Respiration is the transportation of oxygen from the outside air to the cellular tissue within the body, and the transportation of carbon dioxide (waste) in the opposite direction. The energy required by the body to perform an aerobic activity are derived from carbohydrates and fats. However, when performing an anaerobic activity the sources of energy required to perform the activity are derived from adenosine-5 triphosphate (ATP) and creatine phosphate.

While both aerobic and anaerobic exercise improve an individual's level of health and fitness, the benefits differ when comparing the two. Aerobic type exercises focus on moderately strengthening the actual muscles required to perform the activity and greatly improve the condition of the muscles involved in respiration (i.e. the heart). Regularly performing an aerobic activity will improve the circulation of blood throughout the entire body, improve the transportation of oxygen throughout the entire body, decrease blood pressure, increase energy levels and stamina, and promote effective weight loss through an increased level of caloric expenditure.

Regularly performing an anaerobic activity will promote gains in muscular strength, increases in lean muscle mass, stronger joints (due to larger muscles and ligaments connecting to them) and stronger, more dense, bones. Anaerobic activities are also excellent for increasing levels, improving short burst explosiveness, speed, agility, and overall sports performance. In addition, anaerobic activities increase an individual's resting metabolic rate as well. This is due to the fact anaerobic exercises produce increases in lean muscle mass. Since lean muscle mass is more dense, by volume, than fat, a greater level of caloric expenditure is required to support the muscle tissue. This increase in resting metabolism occurs even when the body is at rest.

Common aerobic exercise types include walking briskly, jogging, running, rowing, cycling, swimming, skiing, and aerobic type classes. Anaerobic type exercises include high intensity activities like jumping, weightlifting, interval training, sprinting, agility drills, and the like.

Choosing an Aerobic Activity to Regularly Participate in

There are countless forms of aerobic exercises that you can perform to improve your overall health and fitness. It will be up to you to determine which type(s) of aerobic activities will work best for you.

Below are a few items to consider prior to determining which aerobic activity type you are going to regularly perform:

  • Do you enjoy actually performing the aerobic activity

  • aerobics treadmill
  • Does the aerobic activity support your personal fitness goals?

  • Do you enjoy exercising in a group environment or do you perform exercising alone?

  • Do you the finances to regularly perform the aerobic activity?

  • Does performing the aerobic activity fit your personal schedule?

  • Is the aerobic activity convenient to perform?

  • Will you be performing the aerobic activity in the morning, afternoon, or evenings?

  • Can you perform the aerobic activity on the weekends?

  • Do you have any physical limitations to consider when choosing an aerobic activity to regularly perform?

It is important to spend time determining which aerobic activity, or activities, are best suited for you. One main reason for this is that it is important that you begin, and stick with, your exercise routine. By doing so, you will begin to move towards achieving your personal fitness goals, and as you continue, grow more confident that you can actually achieve them. In addition, if you begin an aerobic fitness program, and make it a part of your daily lifestyle, you will enjoy improvements in your overall health, fitness, and mwntal well-being.

Aerobic Activity Benefits

There are several health benefits associated with regularly participating in an aerobic activity. Below is a list of several of the health and fitness benefits derived from performing an aerobic activity with regularity:

  • Promote safe and effective weight loss

  • Improve your cardiovascular endurance and stamina

  • Strengthen your immune system

  • Reduce health risks associated with obesity, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.

  • Manage and reduce symptoms associated with several chronic conditions. For example, aerobics will facilitate lowering high blood pressure and stabilize blood sugar levels which will reduce the probability of a subsequent heart attack<./p>

  • Aerobics will strengthen your heart, decrease your resting heart rate, improve the efficiency in which blood is pumped from your heart, and increase blood flow throughout the entire body.

  • Maintain clear arteries by increasing the production of high density lipoprotein (HDL), the good cholesterol, and lower the level of low density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol.

  • Improve your overall mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote a sense of calmness.

  • Improve balance, coordination, and flexibility as you age.

  • Improve cognitive functionality and mental sharpness.

Mental Benefits

It has been proven through countless medical studies that both aerobic and anaerobic training produce a sense of mental well being. Regularly performing an aerobic and/or anaerobic activity produces a greater level of serotonin (runners high). Serotonin is an organic compound that is derived from tryptophan and is located in the brain, platelets, digestive tract, and pineal gland. Recent studies show that serotonin plays an important role in the biochemistry of depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. In addition, serotonin is involved in the following bodily functions:

  • Control of appetite

  • Sleep

  • Memory and learning

  • Temperature regulation

  • Mood

  • Behavior

  • Cardiovascular function

  • Muscle contraction

  • Endocrine regulation

  • Depression

Aerobic Activity as Part of a Healthy Lifestyle

aerobics biking

Aerobics activities can be performed virtually anywhere; from the comfort of your home to a fitness center, a swimming pool, and even the sidewalk in your neighborhood. For individuals that prefer to perform their aerobic exercise routines at home, there are literally thousands of home-based aerobic DVD/VHS classes that can be purchased.

In addition, you can purchase weight equipment, stationary bikes, elliptical machines, treadmills, exercise balls, and the like for home use as well. Aerobic activities outside of the home include brisk walking, pushing a baby stroller, jogging, swimming, biking, hiking, and becoming a member of a fitness center.

Regularly performing an aerobic activity, and incorporating it into your daily lifestyle, will produce a life that is filled with good health and fitness. The benefits are numerous and far outweigh the effort required to perform the actual exercise.

In addition, as you begin to actually see and feel the benefits associated with regularly performing an aerobic activity you will begin to not only enjoy the times when you exercise, but encouraging others to begin an aerobic exercise routine as well.