Have you ever heard the old saying: “There is more than one path to the same destination?” Well the same can be said for which type of exercise you choose to get to your fitness goals. Planning your way to fitness begins with knowing the paths ahead. The road to fitness splits into two forks: the aerobic way and the anaerobic way. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), aerobic exercises are physical movements that require oxygen as energy to fuel the body for activity (jogging, walking, swimming and biking). Aerobics are usually long, low intensity, periods of physical activity, and usually the best path to start walking toward fitness. Once you’ve travelled a ways and built a good aerobic fitness base, you may want to switch to the anaerobic path. Anaerobic exercises include short duration, high intensity physical movement bouts. The NSCA further states that, Anaerobic physical activities include those movements that do not require oxygen as energy to fuel the body (resistance training, interval/circuit training, jumping or sprinting). Aerobic exercise is the flat path that goes through the valley while anaerobic exercise is the one that switch backs up into the mountains.
The main difference between the two forms of exercise is anaerobic requires greater levels of physical effort to complete. This difference leads to greater amounts of calories burned in less time, and some nice lean muscle to boot. Here are some forms of anaerobic exercise you can add in between your aerobic exercise days:
Remember that whether your goal is to lose weight or build muscle, knowing which path to walk is the fastest most direct way to reach your destination/goal. For your optimal results, include anaerobic training a minimum of 2-3 days per week, and avoid walking both paths on the same day. When fitness is the goal, the trip is as unique as the traveler, so ENJOY the journey, and don’t be surprised if the exact destination stops mattering along the way.
Stay Active, Stay Strong,
James F. Thomas, M.S., B.A., ACSM EP-C, SFGII, BLS
Joshua Gray, BS, CSCS. NASM CES, USATF 1