PREAMBLE

Last week, we discussed Aerobic Exercises, which are endurance –type exercises in which a person’s muscles move in a rhythmic and coordinated manner for a sustained period. We discussed that Aerobic Exercises, which require oxygen to generate energy, are those that require pumping of oxygenated blood by the heart to deliver oxygen  to working muscles; Aerobic exercises stimulate the heart rate and breathing rate to increase  in a way that can be sustained for the exercise session.  Examples of Aerobic exercises include walking, running, jogging, swimming, dancing etc. Aerobic Exercises improve fitness and are highly beneficial for physical and emotional health. Aerobic exercises can help prevent or reduce the chance of developing some cancers, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

In the course of doing Aerobic Exercises, you breathe hard, the heart is thumping and blood courses through the vessels to deliver  oxygen to the muscles to provide  energy to keep moving and the activity is sustained for much longer than a few minutes. Aerobic exercises require oxygen to generate the energy needed for prolonged exercise (i.e. Aerobic energy expenditure).

It is recommended   generally that adults do a daily minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity  aerobic  exercise,  spread through the day e.g. 10 minutes each time, morning, afternoon and evening. ‘Moderate intensity” is equivalent to feeling warm and slightly out of breath. 

ANAEROBIC EXERCISES

Anaerobic exercises, which is the topic for this week, are those that involve short, intense bursts of physical activity.

Unlike Aerobic  Exercises which  use oxygen to break down  glucose for energy, Anaerobic Exercises do not involve an increase in the absorption and transportation of oxygen, but  break down glucose  stores for energy without  using  oxygen. Generally, these activities are of short length with high intensity or higher power version of exercise. Exercises and movements that require short bursts of intense energy a are examples of Anaerobic exercises, which are more intense but shorter in duration than Aerobic exercises.

The idea is that a lot of energy is released within a small period of time and the oxygen demand surpasses the oxygen supply.  In Aerobic exercise, there is use of a continuous supply of oxygen, which burns fats and carbohydrates and  produces energy which sustains the current level of activity, without needing  energy from another source. Anaerobic Exercise, on the other hand, prompts the body to demand more energy than the Aerobic system can produce. 

To produce more energy, the body uses it’s Anaerobic  system , which relies on energy sources stored in the muscles. Anaerobic exercises push your body  and lungs to rely on energy source stored in the muscle.

  • THE SCIENCE BEHIND ANAEROBIC EXERCISES

Oxygen is required for the body to be able to utilize fat and glucose for energy.  Since Aerobic exercise uses oxygen to produce energy, it can use both fats and glucose for energy production.

Anaerobic  exercises  break  down glucose without using  oxygen. Glucose is available in the muscles  and  can be used  when the Aerobic system is maxed out or reaches the greatest level, for a short period of time.

When you begin to exercise vigorously, there is a temporary shortage of oxygen getting delivered to your working muscles to produce the required energy: Anaerobic exercise consequently gets energy through using glucose through a process called Glycolysis, which is a breakdown of glucose to Adenosine  Triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary source of energy for cellular reactions. Glycolysis  thus produces energy quickly; it produces bursts of energy. This  process of glycolysis also produces Lactic Acid at an increased rate, causing tiredness to the muscles.

By engaging in anaerobic exercises regularly, the body will be able to tolerate and eliminate Lactic Acid more effectively, which means that one will get tired less quickly, eventually.

Anaerobic energy expenditure is difficult to accurately quantify; some methods estimate the Anaerobic component of an exercise by determining the maximum accumulated oxygen deficit or measuring the Lactic Acid formation in  muscle mass.

  • TYPES OF ANAEROBIC EXERCISES

Examples of Anaerobic exercises include Sprinting, High Intensity Interval Training, Strength Training like Weight lifting; Body weight activities such as Pushups and Pull ups.

BENEFITS OF ANAEROBIC EXERCISES

1-Increase of Bone Strength and Density

Anaerobic exercises are Resistance training and can increase Bone density and strength, which can decrease the risk of Osteoporosis.

2.-Promotes  weight  maintenance

Since anaerobic exercise demands more energy from the body within a shorter time frame, it is beneficial for loss of body fat; it can also help gain or maintain muscle mass.

3.-Increase Power

It can lead to Power increase.

4.-Boosts Metabolism

Anaerobic exercises help boost metabolism as it builds and maintains lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you will burn during your next sweat session. High Intensity exercise is also thought to increase your post workout calorie burn.

5.- Increases Lactic Acid threshold

By regularly training above your Anaerobic threshold, the body can increase its ability to handle lactic acid, which increases your lactic acid threshold, or the point at which you experience fatigue. That means you will be able to work out harder for longer.

6.-Fights Depression

Studies show that anaerobic exercise like strength training can boost your mood and even fight depression.

7.-Reduces risk of disease

Gains in strength and bone density attained by high-intensity anaerobic training like body weight squats and push ups can reduce your risk for diabetes and heart disease.

8.-Protects Joints

By building your muscle strength and  muscle mass, your joints will be better protected, meaning that you will have greater protection against injury.

9.-Boosts Energy

Consistent anaerobic exercises increases your body’s capacity to store Glycogen (what your body uses as fuel or energy), giving you more energy for your next bout of intense physical activity. This can improve your athletic ability.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AEROBIC EXERCISES AND ANAEROBIC EXERCISES

The main differences between aerobic exercises and anaerobic exercises are:

  • How the body uses stored energy.
  • The intensity of the exercise
  • The length of time that the person is able to maintain the exercise

Aerobic exercises tend to be rhythmic, gentle and of longer duration. Anaerobic exercises tend to involve short bursts of high intensity activity.

SIMILARITIES BETWEEN AEROBIC AND ANAEROBIC EXERCISES

Bothe aerobic and anaerobic exercises  are beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Both exercise types help by:

  • Strengthening the heart muscle
  • Boosting circulation
  • Increasing metabolism
  • Aiding weight management

Either type of exercise help lower a person’s risk of the following health conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Some cancers
  • Dementia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

CONCLUSION

Either type of exercise is beneficial for both Physical and Mental health. People with heart conditions or other underlying health issues should talk to a doctor before starting any workout routine  or adding any new exercise to an existing routine. A doctor may provide recommendations or restrictions to reduce the risk of overexertion, injury and other health complications.

Caroline Ademiluyi is a Lagos based pharmacist