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Anaerobic activities will increase your lean muscle mass, bone structure, strength, endurance and balance. Aerobic activities will decrease coronary disease, blood pressure, risk of diabetes, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer.

Anaerobic activities will increase your lean muscle mass, bone structure, strength, endurance and balance. Aerobic activities will decrease coronary disease, blood pressure, risk of diabetes, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer.

Terms such as "attaining your target heart rate" and "anaerobic training" are thrown around at every local gym or training centre. However, many people do not really understand what these terms mean or how to efficiently incorporate these modes of exercise into our fitness routines.

Aerobic

Aerobic exercise is simply participating in an activity that increases your heart rate to 50 to 80 percent of your predetermined maximum heart rate (MHR). Ideally, in order to generate an aerobic response, you want to perform an acti-vity at a great enough intensity for at least 15 to 30 minutes.

To determine your target heart rate, begin by determining your MHR. Subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 40, your MHR is 220 - 40 = 180 beats per minute (BPM). You can now determine your target range by multiplying your MHR by .50 and your MHR again by .80. For example, 180 x .50 = 90 BPM, and 180 x .80 = 144 BPM. Therefore, your aerobic target range would be 90 to 144 BPM.

At these levels, your body is able to supply adequate levels of oxygen to meet the demands of the activity. Some common aerobic activities include running, biking and walking, although your heart rate may be increased and maintained by many other movements as well. The easiest way to calculate your heart rate is to wear a watch during an activity and count your pulse for a 10-second period, then multiply that by six to calculate your BPM.

Anaerobic

Anaerobic exercise is any short-term, high-intensity exercise that can only be maintained for up to two minutes. These short, powerful and explosive movements are associated with activities such as weightlifting and sprinting. The anaerobic target range is 80 percent of your MHR or higher. In the case of a 40-year-old person, it would be 144 to 180 BPM.

Energy requirements at this level of activity are so intense that the body cannot supply enough oxygen to meet the required demands. Our bodies begin to rely on a chemical reaction to supply working muscles. This reaction leaves a byproduct known as lactic acid. You may not have heard of lactic acid, but I can almost guarantee you have felt its effects. Lactic acid is what causes your muscles to be sore and tender the day after a strenuous or unusual activity. Can any of you weekend warriors out there relate to those achy muscles after running around the baseball diamond the first weekend of spring?

Better Balance

If your fitness routine is mainly either aerobic or anaerobic, it is time to consider a change. Traditional thought has always been that if you want to lose fat, you need to train aerobically, and that if you want to gain muscle, you need to perform anaerobic activities. There is, in fact, truth in both these statements; using a few basic guidelines that can be modified to meet your individual needs (see box), the right combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise will increase your health levels and fitness goals. Aerobic activities will decrease coronary disease, blood pressure, risk of diabetes, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer, while anaerobic activities will increase your lean muscle mass, bone structure, strength, endurance and balance.

As we age, our lean muscle mass tends to diminish because we do not participate in much strength or resistance training. While working as a kinesiologist, a common request I received from doctors was to develop programs for older people with a focus on resistance training and balance. Many older people suffer from broken bones as a result of falls, but by engaging in some form of resistance training, a person will decrease risk of falling because of increased strength and balance. However, do not be misled to believe that this applies only to elderly people. Our strength will begin to diminish as soon as we stop challenging our muscles.

There is another argument for regular strength training, the fitness component most often neglected. As our percentage of lean muscle mass increases, so does our metabolic rate. Muscle uses far more energy than fat, so if you are trying to reduce body fat, you should look at building lean muscle mass. By adding strength training to your aerobic activities, you will increase lean mass and decrease your percentage of body fat.

If you are already active in a fitness program but need to increase your level of resistance or cardiovascular training, do not be discouraged. You have established a foundation of health and fitness, and your body will adapt to new demands much faster. If you are just starting up again after a long lay-off from regular exercise, consider combining aerobic and anaerobic activities in your program. Begin by consulting a health professional before making any significant changes to your routine. Remember, this is your program and you want to optimize the benefits.

Anaerobic Exercise

To achieve optimal results, perform strengthening exercises a minimum of three days a week for 20 to 30 minutes a session. You may need to build up to this stage, but if you can eventually attain this level of training, you will see significant results. The average person will increase strength by 40 percent and gain two to four pounds of muscle in just two months following this routine. Some examples of anaerobic activities include lifting weights and resistance exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups.

Aerobic Exercise

You will want to build up to a minimum of 20 minutes at 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. This will get you into the optimal fat-burning zone. Ideally, you should do this at least three times a week. It doesn't matter what activities you choose so long as it increases the ticker to that rate. Obvious examples include jogging, brisk walking, hiking, cycling and playing sports that are faster paced and don't require stopping all the time such as soccer, racquetball, tennis and squash. Aerobic activities will decrease coronary disease, blood pressure, risk of diabetes, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer.

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