Much has been discussed and written about this. Let me first explain to you what the difference is between the two, then which one is, or isn’t , more beneficial than the other.
Aerobic just means that there is oxygen present when the exercise is done, which allows oxygen to release energy through metabolism. Normally at a low or comfortable intensity.
Conversely this means without the presence of oxygen. Any activity which is performed at a certain level of intensity without oxygen.
Let me explain by way of an example. When we walk slowly we make use of aerobic exercise, that is, our muscles are using the oxygen we breathe in to convert it to muscle fuel which then powers us. If we walk slowly we can maintain our muscles dependancy on aerobic metabolism, without us getting tired or fatigued. However, as soon as we increase the pace and start working at a higher intensity, the body’s need for energy eventually exceeds that which can be provided, our muscles need more, thats where anaerobic exercising kicks in. This is often referred to as the metabolic threshold.
Let me put it another way. When we watch athletes running long distance, say the 10 000 metres, they seem to go lap after lap looking very relaxed and strong…thats the aerobic part, but as soon as they are on the last round, suddenly they speed up and we see them grimacing, pushing themselves….they have now move out of aerobic and have reached the metabolic threshold, which means they are now using the body’s resources not just oxgen to drive them. They need to time it right, because if they speed up too soon they will fatigue and will fall behind.
How does that translate into what you and I want? Obviously, your goals and what you want to achieve are important. Most of us are non-competitive and just want to feel healthier or lose some weight. Aerobic exercises allow you to exercise for extended periods of time, and hopefully gaining something from it, i.e. lose calories and ultimately weight loss. Aerobic exercises are less stressful on the body, and its organs, and your joints, tendons and cartilages. As a matter of fact it has benefit for many who have heart conditions, arthritis or high blood pressure. However, if you want to improve your performance, some anaerobic exercise is necessary.
When you start off training you normally start with aerobic exercises, but it can build up to an anaerobic point. A sport which is anaerobic is weight lifting , because it fatigues the muscles quickly. If you are unfit and climb up stairs huffing and puffing, thats anaerobic, you are calling on the body’s resources to assist, not just oxygen.
It is easy to determine when we have passed our metabolic threshold intensity – we start to breathe heavier, and the exercise start becoming more laboured. For those of you who like electronics, these days you can buy many gadgets that will do that for you.