Aerobic v.s. Anaerobic Exercise – Top 4 Reasons for Each

images[1]Aerobic exercise (a.k.a. aerobics, cardiovascular exercise or cardio) is any sustained, rhythmic activity that primarily uses your larger muscles and challenges your heart and lungs.

Aerobic means “with oxygen,” so when you exercise aerobically your body uses oxygen to help produce energy during the exercise. Your heart and lungs have to work harder to constantly deliver oxygen to your body during aerobic exercise, and this strengthens your heart and lungs.

There are plenty of ways that you can exercise aerobically. You can walk, run, or bike. You can use a treadmill, stationary bike, stair stepper, elliptical machine, or rowing machine. You can participate in an aerobic exercise class. Here are the top four reasons to get moving:

1. Toughens the ticker. Aerobic exercise strengthens the hardest working muscle in your body – your heart. A stronger heart pumps blood more efficiently, which improves blood flow to all parts of your body. Better blood flow results in more oxygen and essential nutrients being delivered to the cells of your body. It also results in more effective removal of toxins and other waste materials from your body.

2. Helps keep arteries clear. Aerobic exercise raises HDL (good) cholesterol and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. This results in less buildup of plaque in your arteries. Plaques begin in artery walls and can grow over the years. The growth of cholesterol plaques slowly blocks blood flow in the arteries causing all sorts of health problems.

3. Rallies the respiratory system. Aerobic exercise improves the effectiveness with which your respiratory system can supply oxygen to your body. Your body needs a constant and plentiful amount of oxygen in order to function properly.

4. Reduces body fat. Aerobic exercise not only burns calories, it’s the only type of exercise that directly burns body fat. In order for body fat to be burned, oxygen must be used to help produce energy during the exercise, and this only occurs with aerobic exercise.

 

images[8]Anaerobic exercise is high intensity muscular activity that lasts for a short period of time. Strength training a.k.a. weight lifting or weight training and calisthenics (push-ups, pull-ups etc.) are examples of anaerobic exercise. Strength training is the most effective type of anaerobic exercise. Here are the top four benefits:

1. Builds and maintains lean muscle mass. The loss of lean muscle mass can begin as early as your mid-20s, and it results in a loss of strength, a slower metabolism and decreased functional fitness. The loss of lean muscle mass is not the normal result of aging; it’s primarily the result of a sedentary lifestyle. If you don’t use your muscles they waste away. Strength training is the most effective way to build and maintain lean muscle mass and stay strong and functionally fit.

2. Bolsters bones – strength and density. Millions of people worldwide suffer from osteoporosis. Consuming high calcium food (leafy greens, oranges, beans) or taking calcium supplements to increase bone strength and density is not enough. Bones need to be challenged by weight bearing exercise or they will become soft and brittle. Strength training will increase the strength and density of your bones more than any other type of exercise.

3. Motivates metabolism. The slower your metabolism, the easier it is to gain body fat and the harder it is to lose it. Strength training boosts metabolism because it builds and maintains lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass is metabolically active tissue, so the more lean muscle mass you have the faster your metabolism will be.

4. Reshapes the body and improves appearance. Vanity! No other type of exercise can reshape your body and improve your appearance like strength training can. Strength training will give you a strong, toned, looking body.

3 Secrets To Pumping Iron

Secrets of weight training
I love weight training. I have been doing it for over 12 years, and I am always learning new ways to maximize my workouts and my results. Just walk into a bookstore, or browse online and you’ll find hundreds of books all ready to teach you how to gain the benefits of weight training, but there are a few steps you should adhere to no matter what your goals. These steps will ensure optimal results from you weight training activities.

Step # 1: Make your workouts short. Weight training programs should never last more than one hour. Remember, you’re placing stress on the muscles as you lift weights. An hour is the maximum time to exercise without causing stress and possible injuries.

Step # 2: Make your workout intense. During weight training sessions one of your goals should be to challenge your body, so it adapts by building new muscle cells and burning body fat. If you are going to take the time to lift weights, really make it worth your while. I had a football coach tell me that the last rep should look like the first rep.  This little tip helped me to make sure my intensity was at full throttle throughout the entire set.  The last rep won’t feel like the first one, as there is a pretty good chance it will be painful (in a good way) and exhausting, but if you keep good form and intensity, it will show in your results.

Step #3: Consistently change your weight training routines. Regardless of whether you are trying to burn fat, improve sports performance, boost your metabolism, get more tone, or become a body builder, change is a must. To reach your goals most effectively and work smarter, you must constantly challenge your body. Your body can adapt very quickly to repetitive routines week after week. Adding more weight, changing the routine and changing the number of repetitions are all excellent ways to keep change in your weight training workouts.You should change your workout routine at least every four weeks, but you can mix it up every week if you prefer.

The new fitness buzz is that weight training is the new cardio.  I don’t think it is a replacement for cardio, but the benefits of weight training are endless… for men and women.

Exercise Smart to Avoid Injury

I thought I had bowlers elbow from playing X-Box with Samantha, but after a few weeks, I thought  it may be a more serious injury. It can be very frustrating to have to halt your progress due to a strain, but you can definitely hurt yourself and cause pain if you aren’t paying attention to your body.

The idea behind smart exercising is to work out with intensity, but equally as important— avoid doing anything that will hinder the process of getting into shape. When you’re exercising, you will reach a point where your muscles begin to tire, and you feel like you should stop. This is where it gets a little tricky, and you really have to pay attention to what you are doing.

My advice to exercising smarter usually refers to intensity, and I recommend pushing yourself beyond that limit where you start to feel tired. However, it must be something you can realistically do by keeping the same form that you started with.

If you keep trying to do more and more repetitions by whatever means possible, like swinging the weights or using other muscles to “cheat”, you are not doing any of your muscles any good.

Building up muscle takes time, and your muscles are only capable of so much. That is why you exercise them, so that they become stronger. But you still must take care by paying attention. If you push farther than your muscles can go, then you will possibly strain, tear, or otherwise injure your muscles and body. If you hurt yourself while exercising, you may be out of commission for a while and not be able to make progress.

On another note, there is something called delayed onset muscle soreness. It is common after exercise to feel a little tenderness in your muscles. This is completely different from an injury. To read about DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) check out this link to an article I wrote all about it. http://fitchicktricks.com/why-do-muscles-get-sore-after-exercise/

Symptoms of DOMS:

1. The pain is generalized and usually a dull pain or tenderness .

2. It tends to arise symmetrically in the body .

3. It lasts a short time (24-48 hours) then goes away.

Symptoms of an injury:

1. The pain is localized in one area of your body. It can be a sharp pain when the muscle is moved in a certain way.

2. The pain lasts for 3 days or more.

So after a month of thinking that I had injured my bicep, I was not doing any upper body exercises involving my right arm. And it was not getting any better, so I finally went to the doctor, and come to find out, I have tennis elbow. Or in my case it is more accurately described as “mouse” elbow, as I am always on the computer writing about health and fitness.  The rest I was giving my arm was completely the wrong type of rest. But now I know how to work to get rid of my mouse elbow. Luckily it doesn’t include giving up the computer.

Free Weights v.s. Machines

A friend of mine recently asked me what type of workout I do. I change my workouts often, but currently I take a spinning class three times a week, I do a leg work out two times a week, and I split my upper body into two days. But one thing remains consistent no matter what kind of mix and match exercise routine I am doing. I try to stay off of the machines, and here is why:

  1. Machines control your range of motion.
    Sounds like a good thing, right? Not really. Machines often eliminate a lot of work on your part. This is great for beginners, but once you’re past the rookie stage, it is much more effective to be in control of your movement and range of motion.
  2. Many machines put you in a seated position.
    Whenever possible, a standing position is better. Standing while working with weights, pulleys, or bands loads your skeleton (good for bone health), requires you to engage your core muscles, and challenges your balance. It’s like a three for one.
  3. Many machines may isolate only one muscle group.
    Our muscles rarely work in isolation. Although there’s nothing wrong with supplementing a good workout with exercises that isolate a muscle group. But exercises likes squats, lunges, and assisted pull-ups involve several joints which develops more muscle mass (muscle burns calories all day long), improves core strength, and shortens workout time.
Of course there will always be circumstances where a machine will come in handy, and some days you may want the assistance of a machine or look forward to sitting down through parts of your workout, but if you have a choice between a machine and free weights or body weight exercises, try to go with the weights.

Resistance Tubing-Weight Training without the Weights

So many home exercise gadgets, so little time.  Not everyone wants to spend their precious time exercising at a gym, and luckily there are a lot of home options from DVDs to Wii to body weight training to resistance tubing.
These little tubes are simple, small, lightweight, affordable, and you can buy them just about anywhere. So how can such a simple, lightweight object actually help you build muscle?
These tubes are essentially hollow plastic ropes, (or long, flexible plastic tubes). They are made of very durable plastic and rubber that has just enough stretch and bend to serve as a flexible rope, yet they are tough enough that they “resist”  the force exerted when you pull on one or both handle of the tubing.
Resistance tubes are made with varying degrees of strength and tough-ness. The more they resist, the harder they are to pull on, and therefore, the harder your muscles have to work to do so. Because of this, resistance tubing comes in varying levels of resistance, and most are color coded to the  different resistance levels.  They are measured in pounds, as in the weight equivalent of the resistance they provide. (For example, a five pound resistance tube doesn’t weigh five pounds, but it is designed to be as difficult to pull on as would be a tube with a five pound weight attached.)
People use resistance tubes for many different reasons. They can help tone muscle, add muscle bulk, and burn fat. They are also good if you want to mix up your routine and do something a little different, and because they are lightweight and small, they can easily be used at home, or even in the office for a discreet workout during lunch or an afternoon break.
Resistance tubes are generally affordable; I bought a complete set on Amazon.com for around $30. You can buy them individually or as a set, and they will come with an instruction manual and usually a DVD to show you how to use proper form to get results.
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