Many people work-out for the health benefits both physically and mentally, but perhaps the most common motive for exercising is to lose weight or to get rid of those stubborn calories attached to your body. But what exercises should we be focusing on to effectively lose weight? Here, we will be discussing two different types of exercises: Anaerobic and aerobic.

Difference Between Anaerobic and Aerobic Exercises

The main difference between anaerobic and aerobic exercises is the oxygen consumption that fuels the energy. In aerobic exercises, the body is able to regulate their breathing and provide sustainable oxygen for the body to break down fats and glucose. However, anaerobic exercises only break down glucose because these exercises require short intense bursts of energy that do not provide enough oxygen for the body to break down fats.

Examples of aerobic exercises are jogging, swimming laps, brisk walking or leisure cycling. These exercises are also commonly known are ‘cardio’, where the focal point is regulating a steady heart rate and breath-flow.

Examples of anaerobic exercises are sprints, burpees or any of the high intensity exercises. A main indication of anaerobic exercise is the elevated heart rate above 80% of one’s maximum heart rate.

So Aerobic or Anaerobic?

Given the basic idea between aerobic and anaerobic exercises, one might be tempted to solely focus on aerobic ‘cardio’ exercises since it not only breaks down glucose, but also breaks down the dreaded source of energy: fats!

This is true to a certain extent because aerobic exercises definitely burn more fats during the work-out than anaerobic exercises would. However, do not be too quick to dismiss anaerobic exercises because their power lies post-workout!

Anaerobic exercises are the kind of stimuli that builds muscles on your body because the increase muscle mass mean that more glycogen can be broken down for energy without the use of oxygen. In addition to a toned body, muscles increase your metabolic rate outside of your exercise because your muscles need energy to be sustained even at rest! More muscles also help you to last longer during exercise and enables you to engage in higher intensity workouts to burn even more calories.

Burning Calories

Aerobic exercises do produce more energy during the workout thus helping you burn more calories within that time frame. However, if fats are the main source of energy you are looking to deplete, be aware that to tap solely into fats for energy, the glycogen storage in your body must first be exhausted. Studies show that people do reach that stage where the only energy they are using comes from their fats, however that is also when they are known to have ‘hit the wall’. This is observed among marathoners who have completely depleted their glycogen storage and the distance they have had to cover before hitting this stage is usually beyond the 20 kilometers mark.

In conclusion, if you are looking to burn the calories you have just eaten within that exercise alone, go for the slow-paced run with aerobic exercise. But if you’re looking to lose weight for the long run, try working out to a higher intensity and see how your muscles improve your metabolic rate. Nevertheless, do not attempt to exercise with an intensity beyond your level of fitness. Progression is key!

If you have any enquiries on the appropriate exercises for your body, check in with our physiotherapists at PhysioActive for some professional guidance.

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PhysioActive is available in Orchard, Raffles, East Coast, Jurong & Novena!


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