There is never a bad time to begin or renew your exercise routine, but to meet your exercise goals you will want to be intentional in the type of exercise routine you choose. In this article, we want to share our expertise to help you maximize your aerobic and anaerobic exercise. There are numerous programs and routines available for you to choose from but they all break down to these areas: aerobic, anaerobic, flexibility and mobility, and balance and coordination.
How Your Food Becomes Energy
Knowing how your food becomes the energy you need will help you maximize your exercise routines. When you eat, some of the energy from your food will be used immediately and the energy from your food that is not used immediately is stored as fat or glycogen. Your body then has three energy systems (phosphagen, glycolysis, and aerobic respiration) that work collectively to release your sole energy source (Adenosine tri-phosphate or ATP) for further use of the stored energy. All three of these energy systems are defined by how quickly, the intensity, and the amount of energy that is produced from one glucose molecule. These three energy systems are divided by the role of oxygen in their process. The phosphagen and glycolysis systems produce energy in the absence of oxygen while aerobic respiration needs oxygen to produce energy. The phosphagen energy system is an immediate source of energy that produces 12-15 seconds worth of high intensity exercise that is used in the likes of sprints or squat jumps. The glycolysis energy system is an intermediate source of energy that produces 2 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise used in the likes of 400m runs or circuit training. This system produces 2 net ATP per molecule of glucose. The aerobic respiration system is a prolonged source of energy when there is enough sugar, fat, and oxygen present that will sustain you for miles. This system produces a 38 net ATP per molecule of glucose
Aerobic vs Anaerobic Exercise
Almost all exercise is not simply aerobic or anaerobic exercise but includes aspects of both. The best way to think about different components of your exercise routine is that they will be somewhere on the continuum from aerobic to anaerobic exercise.
“Aer” refers to the use of oxygen in the muscles’ energy generating process, so aerobic exercise means that the energy needed for aerobic exercise requires oxygen to be present in the muscles before the energy is released. The oxygen is present in the muscles by increasing our breathing and heart rate. The aerobic process is thus slower but 18 times more efficient than the anaerobic process. This efficiency makes the aerobic process the dominant process for the release of energy for the body to perform. Aerobic exercise is important to keep our heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and depression. Examples of aerobic exercise are walking, running, cycling, and swimming and can be done at a moderate or vigorous intensity.
“Ana” is a negation or without, so anaerobic exercise is “without the use of oxygen” in the muscles’ energy generating process. Anaerobic exercise is thus any exercise that does not need oxygen to be present for energy to be released and is considered “burst” exercises because the energy release is immediate allowing for high intensity over a short duration. Anaerobic exercise is important because it enhances our muscle power, strength, and size. Regular anaerobic exercise increases bone mass density and muscle strength. Examples of anaerobic exercise are sprinting, lifting weights, resistance band exercises, and bodyweight exercises.
Maximizing Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercises
So which type of exercise do I need? In the short term, if you are looking to burn the most calories, include more anaerobic exercise in your routine, but if you are looking to increase your cardiovascular endurance, include more aerobic exercise in your routine. To maximize your optimal health you need both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. The amount of each will depend on your health and what you able to currently do, but for healthy adults from 18-64 the World Health Organization recommends 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 150 vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week and anaerobic activity including all major muscle groups at least two days a week. If you are over the age of 65 and in good health, continue with the routine for those 18-64, but if you are over 65 with poor mobility you should also include physical activity that promotes balance. Before beginning, or changing your exercise program, contact your general practitioner or other healthcare professional to ensure you are physically able to perform your exercise program.
Maximizing your aerobic and anaerobic exercise starts with the understanding of how your body processes food into energy. Knowing that your body releases energy in a variety of ways will help you develop an exercise plan to meet your physical goals.