Aerobic Vs. Anaerobic Exercise
Join us as we venture into the world of fitness to find the winner of the long overdue contest between aerobic and anaerobic exercises. With each having their own pros and cons, it becomes necessary to compare them to find out which workout will be ideal for you.
The most important point of distinction in aerobic and anaerobic exercises revolves around the use of oxygen. In aerobic exercises, energy is produced with the help of oxygen. On the other hand, in anaerobic exercises, it is produced without the help of oxygen. It is quite similar to aerobic and anaerobic respiration; the former takes place in the presence of oxygen and latter in the absence of the same.
Aerobic exercises are the ones wherein oxygen is used to produce energy in order to fuel the body for a prolonged activity. These exercises are performed at moderate intensity for a longer duration. They improve the overall oxygen consumption of the body and simultaneously boost body metabolism. These include long-distance running, cycling, skipping, jogging, etc.
Anaerobic exercises, on the other hand, are those wherein the energy requirement of the body exceeds that provided by breathing, and therefore, the body is forced to work without oxygen. Owing to the lack of oxygen, these exercises are only performed in short bursts. The exercises in this list include sprinting, weight training (machines and free weights as well as bodyweight training), power lifting, resistance machines, etc.
Aerobic Exercises Vs. Anaerobic Exercises
Though the most important, the use of oxygen is not the only point of distinction in aerobic and anaerobic exercises comparison. While aerobic workouts are simple, moderate intensity workouts, which are performed for a longer duration (lasting for about 20 minutes), anaerobic workouts are high intensity workouts performed for a short duration (lasting for about 2 - 3 minutes). As aerobic exercises are performed for a longer duration, the endurance levels required are high compared to the same for anaerobic exercises.
Although both the forms of exercising produce energy through the process of glycolysis, i.e., the conversion of glucose into pyruvate, the substance they use to break down glucose are different. In aerobic exercises, oxygen is used to breakdown glucose. On the other hand, in anaerobic exercises, phosphocreatine is used for the same.
Aerobic workouts facilitate proper circulation of blood and oxygen in the body. They also help in reducing blood pressure and burning fat. Anaerobic workouts, on the other hand, help in improving strength and muscle mass, thus enhancing the individual's power, speed, and metabolic rate. Simply put, aerobic exercises help in developing stamina by building your lung capacity, while anaerobic exercises help in developing force.
If you opt for aerobic workout, you can begin with a short, low intensity warm-up. In contrast, if you are to go for anaerobic workout, you will have to start with a longer, moderate to high intensity warmup, as your muscles will be subjected to immense wear and tear during this process. While aerobic workouts are continuous, anaerobic workouts have breaks in between which help in recovery. The lactic acid build up associated with anaerobic activity often results in pain and numbness. That though, is not the case with aerobic activity.
Which is Better for Weight Loss?
Many people are of the opinion that aerobic exercises are better for weight loss. That, however, is just a misconception. Cardiovascular exercises, such as jogging and skipping, do help in weight loss, but anaerobic exercises have a slight edge over them, as they burn fat even after the workout when the body is at rest. They help in building muscles, and in the process, burn a significant amount of calories.
When used consistently, aerobic exercises do help in fat loss, but then they also pose a threat to the body mass and strength of an individual. Besides this, those who indulge in these exercises are also vulnerable to overuse injuries which are associated with their repetitive approach.
Anaerobic exercises do have a slight edge over aerobic counterparts, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will be ideal for you. An individual suffering from backache, for instance, should ideally choose aerobic workout, as lifting weights can aggravate his pain. The best option, therefore, is to consult a fitness expert or your doctor, undergo a proper health check up, and then determine which exercise is good for you, aerobic or anaerobic.
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