Aerobics, Aerobic Exercise and Anaerobic Exercise – these are some concepts that are bandied about without much attention as to their exact purport. So let us try and clear some of the basic concepts of fitness by understanding what each of these terms mean exactly.
Aerobic Exerciseis defined as relatively low intensity exercise performed over a longer duration. This type of exercise is dependent upon the body’s metabolic or energy generating processes and includes a wide array of activities. This kind of exercise improves lung and heart function and overall fitness levels. For this reason the term ‘aerobic exercise’ is also used interchangeably with cardiovascular exercise. Cycling, walking, jogging, skating, swimming, and a host of other activities can be classified as aerobic exercise.
This kind of exercise is high intensity as against the lower intensities of aerobic exercise and concentrates mainly on increasing power, speed and strength of the person. It is meant to trigger metabolism of an anaerobic kind and helps build muscle mass. Here the activity is typically done in short spurts rather than longer durations; with periods of rest in-between and is of a much higher intensity.
The way in which muscles develop in aerobic and anaerobic activities is different and the aims of both types of exercise are different as well. Aerobic exercise helps lower risk of several chronic diseases and also helps improve endurance, it can even improve mental health and help build leaner muscle, at the same time helping muscles recover from high intensity exercise at a quicker rate.
However Aerobic exercise is often criticised as being inadequate particularly for athletes or others who need high levels of fitness. It is also criticised as being inadequate in providing upper muscular strength. However the fact is that for a vast majority of people (who have no specific occupational fitness requirements) looking to remain healthy and reasonably fit, aerobic exercise, performed regularly for sufficient duration may be quite adequate.
So What Is Aerobics Then?
Well aerobics is a specific method of exercise developed by US Air Force personnel Dr. Kenneth Cooper, M.D. exercise physiologist and Col. Pauline Potts, physical therapist. The aim of aerobics is to improve general physical performance and endurance. This is a specifically developed exercise program that includes certain exercises that are possible for most people to perform regardless of their fitness levels. The aerobics movement met with tremendous success and celebrities such as Jane Fonda propelled it into even greater prominence.