Aerobic workout is defined as an oxygen dependent process. In another words aerobic are workouts that use energy, which has been produced in the body in an oxygen dependent processes. The energy needed to fuel our body during long lasting physical activity is provided by Long-Term Sources of Energy (Aerobically), while the short and explosive activities are fuel by Short-Term Sources of Energy (Anaerobically).
Energy always makes me picture and think of the hunting cheetah and its pray. As you know cheetahs are the fastest land mammal on the planet and they can make hunting look easy. So what kind of energy do you think cheetahs use to hunt and chase their prey. Would their fast bodies produce energy from the short-term sources of energy or they hunt powered by the long-term sources of energy? Stick with me and we will find out the answer.
Long-Term Source of Energy ( Aerobic )
For example a soccer player workouts more than a 1000 calories during a single game. Every calorie burned during the game equals energy. During long lasting activities such as soccer primary source of energy for our body is the long-term source. The Short-Term Sources of Energy supplies our most explosive and short lasting activities. The long-term source of energy is the prime target for people willing to lose weight.
Lets go back to the cheetah and its pray. The cheetah can reach a top speed of 114 km/h (71 mi/h). While chasing its prey in a short sprint, a cheetah starts from rest and runs 45meters in a straight line, reaching a final speed of 72 km/h. determine the cheetah’s average acceleration during the short sprint and find its displacement at t= 3.5s. Clearly the cheetah starts the chase with explosion and speed, which means that the needed energy is produced via short-term source of energy. But what happens when the chase goes longer? The answer is easy. The longer the cheetah chase its pray the more energy is produced through long-term source of energy.
You probably ask yourself already why cheetahs and every other animal including us need to use two ways of producing energy. The answer is pretty simple. The short term is faster, explosive and perfect for supporting the cheetah’s acceleration or the soccer player’s first five minutes of the soccer game. But because the body uses energy that is almost ready in the short-term source of energy the supply of that energy is limited and it needs another way to support the long lasting physical activity.
Everything starts with a molecule called Adenosine Triphosphate. Cells use ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) as primary energy source. ATP production via aerobic mechanisms is slower than production from short-term sources of energy, and during serious workout it may be 2 or 3 min. before the ATP needs of the cell are met completely by this aerobic process. The primary fuels for the long-term source of energy include muscle glycogen, blood glucose, plasma free fatty acids, and intramuscular fats. Protein provides only a small percentage of energy for muscle contraction, so the focus is on carbohydrate and fat, which makes it ideal for people trying to lose weight.
Carbohydrate and Fat + O2 → ATP.
Aerobic is a workout that uses energy produced in a process called oxidative phosphorylation, which requires oxygen. Previously mentioned ATP production via aerobic mechanisms is slower than production from short-term sources of energy. One reason for that is the time it takes for the heart to increase the delivery of oxygen-enriched blood to the muscles. Healthy and fit people can reach aerobic stage of workout a lot faster than people living sedentary life. Aerobic exercise is used interchangeably with the terms: cardiovascular exercise, cardio-respiratory exercise and cardio.
Reaching Aerobic stage of workout and staying in it for long time is target number one for most people. It’s important for us to know when we are in an Aerobic stage of workout. As I already mention earlier, oxygen is crucial part of the aerobic energy production . Measuring the oxygen consumption gives us pretty accurate information on when our body produces energy through aerobic process. Measuring the oxygen consumption is hard to do and one way to be done is by using a special equipment. Another way is by finding the Target heart rate .
Heart rate increases linearly with the oxygen consumption. Heart rate is than plotted on a graph against the oxygen consumption. The target heart rate is then determine by taking the percentages of maximal oxygen consumption at which the person should train( will burn fat and carbs) and finding what the heart rate responses were at those points. That method of determining the target heart rate is called direct method.
You can also calculate your target heart rate through indirect methods. I’m not going to talk about those in details now. You can read more at Target heart rate.
Aerobic workout VS. Anaerobic workout
Do you ask yourself which way to go. Should you workout aerobically (cardio) or anaerobically (weight lifting)? First you should decide how you want to sculpture your body. Cardio workouts will help you maintain good health, lose weight and look lean and muscular. Weight lifting will help you build big muscular body, a lot of power and strength. A good balance between them is the best way to go.
Aerobic workout – First steps
If you feel ready to change your life aerobic exercises are great way to do so. If you’ve been inactive for a long time or if you have a chronic health condition, get your doctor’s OK before you start. Start slowly. You can start with 5-10 min. walk for the first few days and slowly increase the time and speed. In a few months you will be running for 30 min. If you have a condition that limits you, ask your doctor about alternatives. If you have arthritis, for example, aquatic exercises may give you the benefits of aerobic activity without stressing your joints.
A few tips
- Separate your workouts by working different muscle groups in different days.
- Separate your aerobic workout from your anaerobic workouts by putting them in different days.
- Drink enough water during your aerobic workouts, and eat enough protein during your anaerobic workouts.
- Reserve not less then 40 min. and no more then 120 min. for workout every day.
- As you already know oxygen is a main component of the aerobic energy production. Make sure you build a breathing habit. During aerobic exercise you’ll breath faster and more deeply. The rule is take a deep breath hold it for three seconds and release. High – intensity workout means higher need of oxygen.
- Injuries are the enemy number one! Over-training will definitely not do you any favors long term. Rest is important, and your body needs time to heal and recover.
- Combined with a healthy diet, aerobic exercise helps you lose weight — and keep it off.
- Aerobic workouts may reduce the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.
- Aerobic exercise may make you tired in the short term. But over the long term, you’ll enjoy increased stamina, strength and reduced fatigue.
- Your immune system will become more susceptible to minor viral illnesses, such as colds and flu. You will enjoy a better overall health and wellness.
- Aerobic exercises are great weapon against depression and anxiety.
- 30 min. a day of moderate – intensity activity 5 days a week or 20 min. of vigorous – intensity activity 3 days a week will reduce the risk of chronic disease.
- Aerobic workout will benefit your heart. Healthier and stronger heart doesn’t need to beat as fast and it pumps blood more efficiently.
- Aerobic exercise keeps your muscles strong, which can help you maintain mobility as you get older.
- Number of studies agree that active people live longer and more independent life than those who don’t exercise regularly.
Walking, running, bicycling or swimming are some of the obvious choices for people training aerobically. My favorite way to exercise is by playing sports. Tennis and soccer are my favorite way to workout and have fun in the same time. Plyometric exercises are also great aerobic workout. Aerobic dancing is another great exercise that again will give you the benefits of aerobic workout topped with a lot of fun. Always remember to workout hard but in an engaging and fun way.