The terms Aerobic vs Anaerobic characterize two unique cardiovascular processes. These processes or systems allow for the production of energy in the form Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is used to fuel the body and it determines the workload a cell can tolerate before fatigue. Muscle cells contain a limited amount of ATP. To continue working, it is important that muscle cells produce more ATP though either aerobic or anaerobic activities.
The term “Aerobic” means with or in the presence of oxygen. Energy will be produced aerobically when enough oxygen is supplied to the exercising muscles. The more fit your cardiovascular system becomes, the better equipped it is to deliver oxygen. Aerobic exercise typically refers to activities involving large muscle groups. Examples of Aerobic activities include; Swimming, Cycling, Running, Walking, and Aerobic Dance.
“Anaerobic” means the lack of oxygen or not requiring oxygen. In exercise, the anaerobic cardiovascular process begins when the need for oxygen in a muscle is greater than the supply of oxygen. At low levels of intensity, where there is a oxygen surplus, your muscles are operating aerobically. However, at higher levels of intensity, where there is an oxygen deficit, your muscles switch and operate anaerobically.
Energy Production & Waste Products
Aerobic and anaerobic conditioning require different processes to produce energy in exercising muscles. Aerobic conditioning burns fats and glucose, a simple sugar obtained from carbohydrates.
Anaerobic conditioning burns glucose, but does not burn fats. Therefore, if body fat reduction is a major concern, a person should concentrate on an aerobic conditioning program. A key concept to remember is the more efficient the cardiovascular system becomes, the longer a person can exercise aerobically. This leads to a greater fat burning ability. Anaerobic activities include; Sprinting, Jumping, and certain types of weight training.
The waste products produced by aerobic activities are in the form of carbon dioxide and water. These products do not lead to muscular fatigue. The waste product produced with anaerobic conditioning is known as lactic acid. This acid creates a burning sensation in the muscles involved. It also inhibits muscular contraction and leads to quick muscular fatigue. Slowing the tempo of a particular exercise will allow adequate oxygen to return to the working muscles. As a result, the lactic acid should dissipate and the burning sensation subside.
Effects of Aerobic and Anaerobic Conditioning
AEROBIC conditioning has many benefits. A major benefit of aerobic conditioning, is it enhances the cardiovascular system by increasing the capacity to process and deliver oxygen. To get the best results from an aerobic fitness program, a person must train for 20 or more minutes, three to five days a week. Other benefits include:
- Fat reduction
- A decline in blood pressure
- Elevated energy levels
- Lowering in cardiovascular disease
Although aerobic conditioning has many beneficial aspects, certain types of aerobic exercise do have drawbacks.
High impact aerobics, such as running and jumping, place a lot of stress on the knee and ankle joints. It is not advisable for people who have knee and ankle problems to participate in these types of activities.
Since aerobic conditioning places intense demands on the heart muscle, people with heart problems should consult their physician before getting involved. It is advisable to check with a physician before starting any exercise.
ANAEROBIC conditioning also has many beneficial aspects. A major benefit of anaerobic conditioning is it allows muscles to tolerate a greater buildup of lactic acid. Anaerobic conditioning places a greater amount of stress on the muscles involved. Usually a period of 48 hours is needed to insure proper rest and recovery. Other advantages include:
- Increased muscle strength
- Increased bone strength
- Increased stamina
- Increased speed
- Increased stress management
There are two main concerns when talking about anaerobic conditioning. The first deals with its tendency to raise blood pressure and the second relates to the fitness level of the person in question.
People with high blood pressure should consult their physician physician about anaerobic conditioning and the effects on them. Activities where movement is raised above the chest, might cause an elevation in blood pressure. An increase in blood pressure usually is associated with activities that involve weights.
Anaerobic conditioning techniques are used by people who want place stress on their cardiovascular system in order to excel in a particular sport or sports. Examples include: Runners, Swimmers and Cyclists. Normally these people are already in good physical condition. They are using the concept of anaerobic training as a tool to promote greater cardiovascular growth. For the beginner, the cardiovascular system is not as well developed to train anaerobically. Aerobic conditioning is recommended in these cases.
Anaerobic Threshold. What is it?
The anaerobic threshold refers to the point where an exercise goes from being aerobic to anaerobic. There are three main ways to personally identify this threshold point.
- Quick Exhaustion. Exercising at a pace that can’t be maintained for an extended period of time without fatigue is an excellent clue that the activity is not aerobic. Slowing the pace down until the selected activity feels more comfortable, will assure aerobic benefits.
- Muscle Burn. When lactic acid builds up during anaerobic sessions, a burning sensation in the active muscles is felt. Slowing the pace down will change the cardiovascular system back to being aerobic.
- Talk Test. Not being able to talk during an activity is a sure sign that the anaerobic system is being used. A person should be able to carry on a short conversation. Once more, slowing the tempo of the activity will allow the adequate amount of oxygen to reach the muscles. Doing this will change the system back to being aerobic.
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