Aerobic exercise or Anaerobic exercise, which is best? The answer depends entirely on your fitness goals and what you wish to accomplish through training and exercise.
Aerobic, meaning oxygen, exercises increase your heart rate and circulation throughout your body. Examples include jogging, running or similar “cardio” or cardiorespiratory exercises that over time improve the conditioning of your heart and lungs.
The benefits of Aerobic exercise include:
- Moderate intensity. Aerobic exercise or aerobics for short, is suitable for beginners and intermediate trainees. As the intensity is less demanding than other forms of training, you can participate for a longer period to maximize the training effect and burn more calories.
- Improves cardiorespiratory performance. Aerobic training improves the strength and condition of your heart and its pumping action, the circulation of oxygen-rich blood throughout your body and the elimination of waste products carried away by the blood and the capacity and efficiency of your lungs.
- Increased mitochondria. Aerobic exercise promotes the formation of new mitochondria, the parts of your cells that support cellular respiration and the oxidation (burning) of fat for fuel and energy. Aerobic training increases the burning of body fat. Over time, the more aerobics you perform, the more efficient your body becomes at burning fat as fuel.
- Lower blood pressure. The combination of a stronger heart and lungs and the improvement in the condition of your cardiovascular system will increase the health and elasticity of your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure. Lower blood pressure results in lower risk of stroke.
- Increased energy. Aerobic training will make your body more efficient, stronger and oxygen-rich blood will flow more freely and the increase in mitochondria and fuel burning efficiency will provide your body with renewed energy and stamina.
Anaerobic, meaning without oxygen, is more intense exercise and can only be maintained for shorter periods. Examples would include a sprint to the end of a football field, lifting heavy weights to failure, or a sport like tennis which involves shorter frequent periods of intense activity.
Benefits of anaerobic training include:
- Increased speed. Anaerobic training over time will allow you to run faster and jump higher as you train your body to perform well during those short but intense moments of all out effort with little or no oxygen.
- Increased strength. Resistance training with heavy weights promotes the formation of lean muscle leading to an increase in size and shape.
- Increased power. Plyometric or “box” training is a blend of speed and strength training that leads to increased power and agility. This type of anaerobic training is most beneficial when training for sports or athletic activities including jumping for a volleyball or basketball.
- Increased bone mass. Anaerobic exercise and especially resistance training increases bone mass and prevents the degenerative bone loss caused by aging.
- Increased hormone production. Anaerobic exercise is fueled by glycogen, stored “sugars” in muscle tissue. Burning and then replacing this glycogen promotes your body’s natural hormone production including testosterone in men and growth hormones and epinephrine and norepinephrine in both men and women. These hormones create an anabolic effect that supports lean muscle and the oxidation of fat to replace fuel stores.
Aerobic exercise or anaerobic exercise, which is best?
Over time as you continue to train, aerobics will produce a leaner (skinnier) and softer appearing healthy body containing a strong heart and lungs, similar to a long distance runner. Anaerobic exercise will develop a thicker, more muscular body more like a sprinter.
But why choose one over the other? Combine both aerobic and anaerobic exercise to benefit from both the fat burning and lean muscle development of each.