Aerobic Exercise: Top 5 Reasons to Get Physical!
By Shelby Stoner, MS, PHASE IV Exercise Physiologist
Aerobic exercise, commonly known as “cardio,” is exercise that requires the delivery of oxygen to the workings muscles. Aerobic exercises can easily become anaerobic (meaning without oxygen) if performed at high intensities. Not only does aerobic exercise help improve fitness; it has many other health benefits for both physical and mental well-being. So when is aerobic exercise preferred over anaerobic exercise?
Aerobic exercise is also known as fat burning exercise because you must have oxygen in order to break down fat for energy. Through training aerobically, your body learns to favor fat over carbohydrates which have many advantages from both weight management and performance related aspects. Fat is a much more efficient fuel, providing more energy than carbohydrates per gram, and it is abundantly available throughout the body. Carbohydrates in contrast are found in limited supply in the body (stored only in the muscle and liver) and when you burn carbohydrates your muscles produce lactic acid which leads to fatigue and bonking, or “hitting the wall!” Research shows exercising in specific target heart rate zones is the most productive way to improve cardiovascular health, maximize your workout time by preventing both under training and over training, and reduces the risk of injury, disease and burnout.
But what is your “optimum target heart rate" for exercise? The only way to determine your optimal fat burning zone with any precision is to undergo a simple metabolic test called a VO2 Analysis. This test allows us to take a "snap shot" of your physiology during exercise and tells us the most productive exercise intensity for YOU. As your heart rate changes during exercise so does your body’s preferred energy source. Whether you are simply looking to improve your fitness, shed a few pounds or improve your athletic performance, proper heart rate training is essential to optimizing your training efforts. VO2 testing allows us to accurately determine your optimal “Fat Burning Zone” (the heart rate range at which your physiology predominantly burns fat for energy as opposed to carbohydrates). By training in this zone, you will gradually teach your body to prefer burning fats both during exercise and at rest, allowing you to achieve your goals far faster and with far greater efficiency. These precise metabolic tests will produce exact personalized heart rate zone prescriptions from which to design your activity program for optimal results. Because each person's metabolism is unique to their personal physiology, PHASE IV metabolic testing is the only way to accurately determine your proper heart rate training zones. Eliminate the guess work and frustration by training with science! Train smarter, not harder!
Top 5 Benefits of Aerobic Exercise:
1. You will look and feel better as a fat burning metabolism will reduce your body fat and provide better energy levels. Fat burns “clean,” so you are not producing lactic acid as you would be during anaerobic exercise. Fat cells also hold toxins in the body, so by tapping into our fat stores for energy, we release these harmful toxins which lead to less inflammation in the body.
2. Improved protection from heart and vascular disease as you develop a stronger network of blood vessels called capillaries that deliver oxygen to the heart and working muscles. Aerobic exercise works in many ways to prevent heart disease; two of the most important are by reducing blood pressure and allowing blood vessels to be more compliant (more compliant means that they become less stiff and it's less likely for fat to accumulate and clog up the vessels).
3 Decrease fatigue: As your body adapts to precision heart rate training you will start to use more fats to meet your energy requirements during workouts and every day activities and therefore produce less lactic acid. Your body will also learn to clear lactic acid from the exercising muscles. Over time, you will be teaching your body to move faster without accumulating large amounts of lactic acid.
4. Stronger Heart: Prolonged aerobic exercise training Increases the volume of blood being pumped with each heart beat which results in a lower heart rate (larger stroke volume). Having a larger stroke volume means the heart doesn't have to pump as many times per minute (bpm) to meet the demands of exercise. Fewer beats and greater stroke volume mean greater efficiency.
5. Improved performance for all sports, activities and daily tasks. Less reliance on carbohydrate metabolism and the corresponding lactic acid production means you can go longer, faster and stronger than before.
Take away message: By training aerobically, you will not only be able use fat as fuel but you will be able to work harder for a longer period of time before fatigue sets in. Remember to work in a recovery day each week and one week a month, in order to avoid overtraining and injury.
Whether your goals are related to weight loss or improved performance, PHASE IV science has the answers. Call us to schedule a complimentary 30-minute health and fitness consultation at our facility in Santa Monica. 310-582-8212