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Aerobic Exercise, Anaerobic Exercise, and Target Heart Rates

Hey y’all! It is time for some education and a little background info on the benefits of all your hard work. You have done your part by showing up faithfully and the results are there but, if you’re like me, you are always curious to learn about what more you can do!

I’ll kick this off with a history lesson first since I’m a history buff: Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, an exercise physiologist, created an aerobic exercise routine in the 1960s as a means to prevent coronary artery disease. It was originally designed for astronauts dealing with zero gravity conditions, but it was later discovered that it could benefit the general population, especially those who are obese and at risk for heart disease.

Aerobic exercise, also known as CARDIO, is physical exercise consisting of low to high-intensity intervals that depend primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process. This type of exercise strengthens your heart and lungs and trains your cardiovascular system to manage and deliver oxygen more efficiently throughout your body. Some examples of aerobic exercise are cycling, swimming, rowing, jogging or brisk walking for 15 mins or longer maintaining 60-80% of your MHR (Maximum Heart Rate).

Anaerobic exercise is a short-duration, high-intensity activity in which your body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the oxygen supply available. The body relies on energy sources stored in the muscles and is not dependent on oxygen from breathing but rather from what is present in your muscles. This type of exercise uses fast-twitch muscle fibers which will enhance your musculature. In the absence of oxygen, lactic acid will build up in your muscles and you will become winded quickly. This is why anaerobic exercises are short in duration. Examples of anaerobic exercises are sprints of all kinds, jumping, HIIT, and weight-training. 

You can do anaerobic exercises for seconds up to 2 minutes, which is when your body’s aerobic system kicks back in. When you exert yourself at 80 to 90% (or higher) of your MHR, you are creating what is called EPOC–excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. What does this mean, you ask?! Well, let me tell you. This means that you will continue to burn calories at rest for up to the next 38 hours post-exercise! You read that right, burning calories at rest! You can incorporate these exercises into any routine with sprints during your cardio, and jump squats or burpees for your strength routines.

Not everyone includes anaerobic exercise because quite frankly it’s HARD. We live in a society that wants benefits without work and always is looking to take the easy way out. Most people don’t like to hear when something is going to be hard or like to be faced with something intimidating but YOU CAN DO IT! Just push yourself to that extra step and you will be amazed by what you can accomplish. Baby steps are all it takes. We all started somewhere.

Now that we have discussed the benefits of adding anaerobic exercise to your routine, let’s talk a little bit more about that Target Heart Rate and MHR I mentioned. Your target heart rate is 65% to 85% of your MHR. For starters here is how to calculate it:

220 – AGE = MHR     

Ex: 30-year-old female

220 – 30 = 190 bpm as the MHR

190 x .65 (65%) = 123 bpm

190 x .85 (85%) = 161 bpm

Target Heart Rate = 123 to 161 bpm

Let’s go back to where we were talking about aerobic and anaerobic exercise and MHR. So, for aerobic exercise you want to do a minimum of 15 mins of a moderate-intensity workout and maintain 60-80% of your MHR. Remember, aerobic exercise is over a longer period of time. Anaerobic exercise, which is short-duration, is vigorous-intensity workouts maintaining 80 to 90% (or higher) of your MHR. How long you want to keep your heart rate up depends on your overall goal for the workout. If you are working on improving your heart health and weight maintenance, you should do 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity (AHA recommends 5 – 30minute workouts each week). If you do vigorous-intensity, only 75 minutes per week is recommended. If you are trying to lose weight you will need to increase your exercise time based on your intensity level.

Here is what I want you to get out of all of this (which probably seems like a foreign language right now) just remember to push yourself. Your target heart rate is simply to make sure you are pushing yourself hard enough. Try new things, but listen to your body. Ask your trainer to include some of those anaerobic exercises to your routine so you can start benefiting from that EPOC! Balance your workouts and just keep up the good work!!

-Peace, Love & TruFit

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