To be able to do any exercise requires energy. When moving from a state of rest to a state of moderate activity, the body generates the necessary energy by using oxygen as fuel to burn carbohydrates and fat. This is what we call aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercises, therefore, are ones where there is ample oxygen in the body to generate energy. Walking, running, cycling or swimming (Find swimming classes in Mumbai) at a comfortable pace are other examples of aerobic exercise.

As the intensity of the exercise increases, the oxygen supply in the body gets depleted and the muscles need to be fed energy through other means. This is when the body must draw in carbohydrates from all other sources to fuel the body’s energy need. Since this energy generation happens without the help of oxygen, it is called an anaerobic exercise. Examples of anaerobic exercises are sprinting, cycling or swimming at a fast pace and weight lifting. As the intensity of the exercise increases, the body automatically switches from aerobic to anaerobic exercise. The point at which this change happens is referred to as the metabolic threshold and marks the point where extra effort starts to be required.

Athletes know this very well and try and maintain their effort level below the metabolic threshold in order to be able to train for longer durations. The metabolic threshold can also be cleverly used by everyday folks by keeping a focus on one’s breath while running, cycling or any other activity. The moment when one’s breathing becomes a little labored is the moment when the threshold has been reached. This is when one must drop the pace in order to run or cycle longer so that the body may revert to aerobic metabolism.

On the other hand, continuous anaerobic exercise builds up lactic acid in the specific muscle group that is being focused on. This waste material disallows efficient muscular movement and is what we call fatigue. Fatigue causes the muscle to weaken and the number of repetitions to decrease.

Aerobic exercises can be done by almost anybody. The low stress involved with this form of exercise means this is perfect even for older folks or those suffering from arthritis, high blood pressure, and heart diseases. Aerobic exercises burn fat and hence, helps in losing weight. Also, done regularly, it helps in strengthening the heart and lungs.

Anaerobic exercises tone the body and build lean muscle mass. Working with heavier weights in the gym also helps in improving one’s stamina and strength. Coupled with the proper diet, they also help in strengthening the bones, tendons, and ligaments.

One needs to now make an informed decision about which exercise to choose based on their current strength and stamina levels. Strenuous anaerobic exercises are best done under the supervision of an expert or a trainer whereas aerobic exercise can be taken by anybody. Only those with heart-ailments, diabetes or arthritis need to first check with their physician.

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