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Aerobic vs Anaerobic Exercise

Aerobic vs anaerobic exercise, what will work for you? Regular exercise is the logical companion to and complement of your good eating habits.

Aerobic Exercise

It not only helps you stay slim and trim, but also builds and tones the muscles, improves bone density, strengthens the cardiovascular system, and increases your capacity to process oxygen. The resulting benefits to your skin, as you might imagine, are many and varied.

Toned muscles and strong bones, for example, provide just the sort of framework needed for smooth, firm skin, and enhanced blood flow, for its part, ensures that a plentiful supply of nutrients and oxygen reach all those tiny capillaries that nourish your skin cells from head to toe.

Exercise can also reduce stress levels and thus temper the hormonal surges induced by stress, which lessens the likelihood that you will suffer from certain types of hair loss conditions, nail problems, and skin disorders. But last, and most important, an adequate level of physical fitness lays the groundwork for sound overall health, which will be reflected in everything from the color of your complexion to the very texture of your skin.

Physical activities that condition the body can be split up into two very broad categories: aerobic and anaerobic. Now, you may have read elsewhere that certain kinds of exercise, such as running, bicycling, stair-stepping, or swimming, are "aerobic." You may even currently participate in an aerobics class. Conversely, you may have heard that weightlifting is an "anaerobic" form of exercise. Such distinctions, though generally true based on the way most people exercise most of the time, can nonetheless be misleading.

What Does Aerobic Mean?

The word aerobic literally means "in the presence of oxygen." Used precisely, it can therefore be applied to any exercise that requires your cardiovascular system to work harder than normal, but not so hard that it fails to keep up with the oxygen needs of the muscles being exercised.

By extension, an activity can be accurately labeled as anaerobic when the intensity level of the exercise pushes the working muscles to the point that they require more oxygen than your body can deliver in a timely fashion.

Seen from this perspective, the workout you get in your aerobics class may or may not always be aerobic. If everything proceeds at a smooth, steady pace that doesn't surpass the limits of your current cardiovascular conditioning, then well and good. You're probably exercising aerobically, even if you've worked up a light sweat.

But when the music is cranking and you really start to jam, odds are that you will quickly outstrip the capacity of your heart and lungs to send fresh, oxygenated blood to your legs and arms, thus taking the workout to an anaerobic stage. Running also provides a good illustration of our point. When you run at a light jogging clip, as most folks do, the activity is aerobic. But push it to an all-out sprint, and you're definitely in anaerobic territory.

So, when aerobic vs anaerobic exercise, choose only the one that will work the best for you.

All content and images are copyright protectedAerobic vs Anaerobic Exercise
Updated October 19, 2011

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