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There's a lot of information out there on how to stay healthy and fit. I like to share those things that are easy, practical and readily adaptable based on ones particular needs, capabilities or preferences. If it helps us stay healthy and fit...I'll share it and you feel free to share it too. This is a positive place to help each other. Please keep posts consistent with the goal and stay motivated!

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Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Workouts. What's the Difference?

When establishing an exercise routine many people decide to weight train and/or do cardio. While it is essential to do both for a well-rounded exercise plan, did you know it is important to also incorporate aerobic and anaerobic exercises into your workouts? Most people are aware of the term aerobic activity. There are certainly many videos on TV or the internet advertising them. But what does aerobic mean?

Aerobic exercise means you have enough oxygen to sustain the activity for an extended period of time. Low to moderate intensity exercising is associated with aerobic exercises. For example, you go for a walk, cycle or even dancing and you may feel your breath rate increase but not enough that you run out of oxygen.  Large muscle groups are activated and can be maintain for a long period of time. Anaerobic activity means you are working at a higher intensity level during the exercise and your body can’t sustain it very long as you run out of oxygen. During a higher intensity exercise you can only sustain anaerobic levels for 90-120 seconds. Some examples of Anaerobic activity are Plyometrics, HIIT and Tabata. Weight lifting is also considered anaerobic as your muscles fatigue and you can’t do any more reps.   Here are some tips to distinguish between the two:

  • Aerobic is working with oxygen and Anaerobic is working without oxygen

  • During Aerobic activity you can carry on a conversation but may feel a little out of breath.

  • During Anaerobic activity you can’t expend any more oxygen to talk as you needed it to get thru the short burst of the high intensity exercise.

Why do you need to focus on aerobic or anaerobic activities when you work out? Making sure you vary your workouts with aerobic and anaerobic activity is important depending on your fitness goals. Aerobic type of activity triggers fat burning. It helps improve your cardiovascular system by strengthening the heart and increases your oxygen level to improve endurance levels while exercising. Anaerobic will help burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. Studies have shown anaerobic exercise will help improve muscle mass and build stronger bones and joints due to the increased impact on your body. How often should you train with aerobic and anaerobic activity? Aerobic activity can be done up to 7 days a week. Anaerobic activity is suggested 2-3 weeks with ample rest in between. Anaerobic exercising may not be for everyone due to illness or injury and you should consult your physician before adding it to your workouts. If you decide to incorporate both into your workouts, start with 2-3 days of aerobic and one day anaerobic.  These two types of activities affect your metabolism in different ways and to some extent both are needed in everyday life.  You need energy to do things in your daily life such as speak, walk to the mailbox or do a household chore. However, if you need to move quickly, you will need to work on your anaerobic activity to help build up your endurance to have the ability to act quickly and not run out of gas too soon. Thru my coaching plans this is an area of focus I discuss with clients as it is not something everyone focuses on when they train. I want to make sure that my clients know the differences between aerobic and anaerobic activity and what the benefits can be to help promote a healthier lifestyle. Check out my coaching plans as they might be something you want to add to my free workout videos.

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