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Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise: Why You Need Both

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Aerobic and anaerobic exercises are different ways of working out that both provide tremendous health benefits. The term aerobic means ‘with oxygen’, and the term anaerobic means ‘without oxygen’. This refers to the way the body uses energy to perform the exercises.

While these forms of physical activity impact the body in different ways, they both play an important role in overall health. Learning about the differences can help you take your fitness and health to a higher level. 

What is Anaerobic Exercise?

Anaerobic exercise refers to short, quick, high-intensity exercises when the body does not use oxygen as an energy source. Instead, these exercises  activate fast-twitch muscle fibers, like heavy weightlifting or sprinting, when oxygen demand surpasses oxygen supply. 

When you work out, your heart rate increases and your body works to pump more oxygen to muscles. During anaerobic activity, this oxygen isn’t enough to supply your body with the energy it needs to continue performing the activity. Instead, the body uses energy in the form of glucose that is readily available inside of the muscles.

Accessing this energy involves a process called glycolysis, when glucose is converted into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for energy. This can provide energy for high-intensity activities that last 10-15 seconds.

The second energy system is the lactic acid system, and it works in sequence with the ATP system. As your body produces ATP, it creates pyruvic acid, which is then broken down into lactic acid and lactate. In the liver, these compounds are converted to glucose, called gluconeogenesis, which the body uses as energy. This energy can be used to power high-intensity physical exertion for about 2 minutes. As lactic acid and lactate build up in your muscles, you begin to feel fatigued. This is what triggers the need to take a break during these high-intensity, short-duration workouts. With regular anaerobic exercise, the body will be able to tolerate and eliminate lactic acid more efficiently, allowing you to push further without feeling  fatigued too quickly. 

What is Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic exercise is activity that uses large muscle groups and can be maintained with ease. These activities use oxygen to generate energy and maintain continuous movements of the large muscle groups. The muscle groups used during these activities use aerobic metabolism to extract fuel from fatty acids, carbohydrates, and amino acids. When you do aerobic activities, your body uses slow-twitch muscle fibers which can maintain contractions without quickly fatiguing. 

Aerobic exercise is anything that requires a steady amount of energy, which can be sustained over a long period of time. Activities like, walking, long-distance running, cycling, cross country, skiing, and swimming are aerobic exercises.

What are the benefits?

Anaerobic workouts are great for building muscle mass and improving power. Whereas aerobic exercises improve endurance and strengthen the cardiovascular system. While anaerobic and aerobic workouts are different, they’re both equally important to your overall health and a well-rounded exercise regimen. 

Anaerobic and aerobic exercises share several mental and physical health benefits including:

– Protect against bone loss
– Weight management
– Improve mood
– Boost energy
– Improve heart health
– Support healthy metabolism
– Improve self-esteem
– Bolster the immune system

It is clear that both types of exercises have a place in a well-balanced fitness routine. Incorporating both anaerobic and aerobic activity allows the body to build strength and endurance while unlocking all of the health benefits listed above. 

Get Moving With Biostrap

Whether it’s anaerobic exercise or aerobic exercise, Biostrap makes it easy to track all of your fitness biometrics and ensures you’re getting the most out of each and every workout. Our collection of health tracking devices offer insights into your resting heart rate, active heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration rate and oxygen saturation levels, along with sleep and recovery parameters. Paired with the Biostrap app, we make it easy to monitor your workouts and create exercise routines that fit your needs.

Our activity classification tool also makes it incredibly easy to get detailed data from every workout. You can classify your favorite cardio activities and strength training exercises. This helps give you insights into rep consistency, the duration of your exercise, and how many calories you’ve burned.

The wristband and Activity Pod work seamlessly to provide a 12-axis motion capture to monitor everything from hand movements to velocity. Adding one of our external heart rate monitors, you can even track heart rate progression in real-time and monitor specific exercise zones, such as warm-up, fat burn, cardio, hardcore training, and maximum effort. By tracking your every move, you’ll be able to push yourself to achieve new fitness goals and better health.