There are two ways of obtaining energy in the human body: the breathing aerobic and anaerobic, processes that are distinguished by the presence and consumption of oxygen, in the first case, and its absence, in the second.
With the aerobic exercisesWe force the body to use energy through the carbohydrate and fat oxidation circuit, that is, through the consumption of oxygen to start them or simply sustain them over time. For instance: walking, jogging, tennis.
Instead, anaerobic exercises They do not require oxygen, since they use alternative processes for obtaining energy, such as the fermentation of lactic acid or the use of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) muscular. For instance: sit-ups, box jumps, freediving.
These considerations are vital when it comes to doing sports or exercising, so as not to demand more from the body than is convenient in each of its phases of obtaining energy and to be able to direct the effort in the most suitable way possible.
Differences between both modalities
The great difference between both modes of exercise is, as we have already said, the presence or absence of oxygen as a mechanism for obtaining immediate energy.
- Aerobic activities. Therefore, they are directly linked to the respiratory and cardiac systems, so that they can last for a longer period of time. This is because its level of demand is placed on the ability of our body to incorporate oxygen from the air and circulate it through the body through the blood. The higher the oxygenation capacity, the longer the sustained effort will be.
- Anaerobic exercises. On the other hand, whose energy explosion comes from the muscles themselves and their energy reserve, they are usually brief and of great intensity. In fact, if it is prolonged in time, there is a risk of accumulating lactic acid in the muscles, a by-product of the emergency use of glucose. And that build-up leads to cramping and prolonged muscle fatigue.
So, aerobic exercises are prolonged and light to medium intensity, while anaerobic exercises are intense and brief.
Examples of aerobic exercises
- Hikes. The simplest exercise that exists, with great aerobic performance and that is carried out through long sessions in which the respiratory and cardiovascular system works incessantly, burning fats and carbohydrates. It is ideal for maintaining the lungs and increasing cardiac resistance.
- Trotting. The faster version of the walk is an exercise with moderate impact on the legs and knees, but that supports the respiratory and cardiovascular rhythm in the face of a higher and more sustained energy demand. It is usually combined with periods of rest (walking) and short periods of running (anaerobic).
- Dances. An entertaining, group-based form of exercise that uses numerous muscle routines to exercise endurance, coordination, and breathing capacity, as it can be extended over various musical themes that provide the necessary rhythmic accompaniment. It’s a socially useful form of exercise, too.
- Tennis. The so-called “white sport” is an example of aerobic routines, as it requires being in constant motion on the court, alerting the direction of the ball, which also increases its speed as it is hit and returned over the net.
- Swimming. One of the most demanding aerobic exercises, as it requires large breaths of air to keep the body functioning submerged in the water. It promotes lung capacity, cardiac resistance and at times the anaerobic strength of the extremities.
- Aerobic jumps. The classic gym aerobics routine is the best possible example of this type of oxygen-intensive activity, in which movement is sustained during several successive routines and relies almost exclusively on the body’s cardiovascular endurance.
- Cycling. The exercise of the bicycle is extremely demanding on the lower limbs, demanding a very large cardiorespiratory capacity to the extent that the effort is sustained, much in the manner of marathons, during entire circuits that must be covered at medium speed. The finals, in which the greatest load of force is printed to reach high speeds and arrive first, instead, are merely anaerobic.
- Rowing. As in the case of cycling, but with the upper extremities and the trunk, it is a sustained exercise over time that requires managing fatigue and a good and constant intake of oxygen, in order to keep the boat moving with the force that is impressed on the oars.
- Rope jumps. This exercise is common to many practitioners of the sport, whatever the discipline, as it requires continuous jumps to avoid the rope, being able to go faster or slower depending on the individual’s endurance capacity.
- Soccer. It is considered both an aerobic and anaerobic sport, as it combines short, intense runs with a constant movement back and forth across the huge court, anticipating the action of the ball. With the exception of the goalkeeper, none of the soccer players remain stationary, so he requires good respiratory and cardiac capacity.
Examples of anaerobic exercises
- Weightlifting. During weightlifting, the muscles operate at maximum capacity, fulfilling the designated task for a short period of time, since the breath is not being used to renew energies. This enhances muscle strength and endurance, generating hypertrophy.
- ABS. This very common exercise is anaerobic since the series of push-ups have the task of maximizing muscular power and resistance to fatigue situations, through increasingly long series of repetitions of intensity.
- Short and intense races (sprints). These are short races but with a lot of effort, such as the flat 100m, in which the power and speed of the lower extremities and torso are developed, above the general endurance of the organism.
- Medicine ball throw. Explosive strength exercise that involves a large set of muscles arranged to gain momentum behind the head and throw the ball over the shoulder as far as possible. This movement is fast and intense, so it does not really require breathing.
- Box jumps (box jumps). This exercise is carried out by jumping with both legs on a box of different heights, forcing the legs to accumulate energy and muscle power. It is very common in crossfit routines.
- Isometric exercise. It is a form of intense exercise that does not involve movement, but rather maintaining muscular position for a short period of time to produce a continuous effort, promoting muscular endurance in the absence of oxygen.
- Bars and parallels. Using the body itself as weight, these exercises require the muscles of the arms to gather enough energy to lift us a repeated and finite number of times, thus promoting their power and hypertrophy, without resorting to breathing during the effort.
- Push-ups (push-ups). Similar to the bars, but face down, this classic exercise uses gravity as resistance to overcome, lifting your own weight in short and quick sessions of effort that increase as the muscles gain power.
- Squats. Third in the classic series, together with the push-ups and abdominals, the squats drop the weight of the straight torso and the arms extended (or on the nape) on the thighs, allowing them to make the effort to lift us up and go down again. , interval during which they will not be receiving oxygen from their breath.
- Freediving or free diving. A well-known extreme sport that suspends breathing during underwater diving, for which a large lung capacity is required to hold the breath, but also anaerobic effort, since being underwater the muscles must operate without oxygen input.