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.

Cool!

There is nothing cooler than watching a girl do pull-ups… all by herself… with no help… from anyone. Especially when she can do more than two or three. There are a few girls at my gym who can do this, and I love to watch them, because I want to be able to have that kind of strength.

I asked one of the girls how she worked her way up to doing real pull-ups, and she said she started out with the assisted pull-up machine. I have been doing that machine for years, and I am still not able to do a real pull-up.

I recently came across some tips on how to work up to a real pull-up, so that is my goal for the end of the year.

Pull-ups are actually one of the best exercises that you can do, but so many people don’t do them because they can’t do them. We want to be able to do them but don’t know how to go about developing the strength and technique. That is my excuse!

There are really two types:

A pull up is done when you grip the bar with a “palms away” grip.

A chin-up is done with a “palms facing” grip.

Chins are a bit easier because this grip uses your biceps for help. Last year one of the “old guys” at the gym started helping me with chin-ups. I was able to do about four on my own, and then he would help me on the last two or three (then the guy who was old enough to be my father, started to make inappropriate comments… if you know what I mean – no more chin-ups for me). Maybe that story belongs on another blog, and my goal is to do PULL-UPS not CHIN-UPS anyway.

If you can’t even do one pull up there are two ways to work up to it.
1. The flexed arm hang
2. Negative pull-ups

For the flexed arm hang boost yourself up – either have a friend spot you (make sure it is not a dirty old man!) or step up on a bench – so that your chin is above the bar. Once in this position, pull the elbows down and slightly back, keep your chest up and tighten your lats before you take your feet off the bench. The idea here is to hold yourself in this “chin over the bar” position for as long as possible.

Add time as your strength increases. When you are hanging, bend your knees so that your feet are behind you and your torso and thighs form a straight line. Don’t lift your knees up in front of you and try not to swing.

Negative pull-ups will help develop the strength necessary to perform pull-ups. Get into the “chin over the bar” position but instead of staying in the flexed arm position, you will lower yourself down to the “dead hang” position. Try to lower your body on a 5-count and don’t just drop and flop. There will be a point just before the dead hang position where there’s the urge to relax, but continue to exert control.

Use the same initial position and form doing the negative pull up that’s used in the flexed arm hang. Lock in with your lats, bend your knees and keep your feet behind you. Maintain control as you start your going down and keep your lats tight. If you have a spotter they can help steady you before the drop.

So, by December, I will be able to do at least three real pull-ups… all by myself… with no help… from anyone.

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