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We’ve all heard the terms Aerobic and Anaerobic activity, but what do they mean, and what is the difference between them? In order to live a long, happy and healthy life, we need to stay fit; increasing our aerobic exercise is the way to do it.

What Does ‘Aerobic’ Mean?

Simply put, the word ‘Aerobic’, means ‘With Oxygen’. When the body is engaged in aerobic exercise, the heart, lungs, and blood vessels (our cardiovascular system) respond by increasing the amount of oxygen available to the muscles in action. Aerobic exercise typically uses large muscle groups and is carried out rhythmically for long periods of time. Regularly engaging in this type of exercise greatly improves personal fitness and causes the heart to become stronger and more effective at pumping blood to everywhere it is needed (thus delivering oxygen more efficiently to the muscles).

The more aerobic exercise you partake in, the greater your level of fitness; thus you can work out for longer, with a higher intensity, and recover much quicker at the end of a session.

There are two types of Aerobic exercise – High Impact and Low Impact. High Impact actions basically mean that both feet are lifted from the floor, this causes a greater jarring of the joints when the body lands back down again. Running is an example of this. Walking, on the other hand, is an example of Low Impact activity.

Where Do I Start?

When taking on aerobic exercise for the first time it is important to begin at a fairly low intensity, you can then increase this as the weeks pass by – your fitness will increase and the activities will begin to feel easier. As a guide, 20 minutes of walking and/or jogging will be sufficient for most people at the beginning for becoming somewhat breathless. As time passes, fitness levels will increase and you will require longer sessions and higher intensity activities in order to break a sweat. Try jogging faster at this point, or adding resistance (jogging up hill, for example).

The heart is a muscle, so like other muscles – the harder you work it, the stronger it will get. Regular physical activity, particularly aerobic activity, is the best way to do this.

It is worth noting that Anaerobic activity is important too, but this is primarily used to build up and tone up the muscles – it does not benefit the heart and lungs as effectively as Aerobic activity does.

What Constitutes as Aerobic Activity?

The best examples of Aerobic activity are the classic and traditional sports you are already familiar with. Football, basketball, hockey, rugby. Get together with friends or a local club to get involved and stay motivated – once you get started, try to keep your physical activity regular, this way you will notice an improvement in your personal fitness in no time. Playing a team sport just twice a week is enough to keep you fit and healthy. The more you do it, the fitter you will get.

Make sure you choose a sport or sports that you enjoy, this way you are less likely to give up or quit at any point. It is also worth considering joining a local gym, even if just to try it out for a month. You have access to many different sports and Aerobic exercises this way and can find out which ones suit you the best.

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