The Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise

The Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise

The definition of the word “heart”, according to Merriam- Webster dictionary is “a hollow muscular organ of vertebrate animals that by its rhythmic contraction acts as a force pump maintaining the circulation of the blood”

The word to focus on in the definition is “muscular”. The heart is a muscle. And just like any muscle there is more than one way to make it stronger. In any given moment at Hancock Wellness Center you see people working their muscles in all sorts of ways from walking to running, riding a bike, lifting weights, or engaging in one of the multitude of classes that are offered. Look around — muscles are working!

As a cycling instructor, one of the ways that I like to push my students is, every so often, working in an anaerobic capacity. If this isn’t something in your current repertoire, below are some reasons why you might want to add this work out style to your current rotation.

What is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic capacity?

Aerobic means “with air” and is any exercise that last longer than 2 minutes. Anaerobic means “without air” and is the body producing energy without oxygen — in other words “breathless”. This type of exertion lasts around 30-60 seconds and is intense and challenging. So why even bother? Here are some reasons why anaerobic exercise can benefit you.

  • It builds muscle. Increased muscle mass amplifies your metabolism and helps combat fatigue.
  • It is a mood booster. Exercise in general can help with anxiety and depression, but working at a higher level produces endorphins, which acts like natural morphine in the body. This promotes better sleep, improves memory and improves overall mood.
  • It increases endurance. When you increase your endurance, you increase your fitness level and stamina.
  • It lowers blood sugar levels. Regular anaerobic exercise helps regulate insulin by burning stored glycogen in order to help your body stay healthy. This helps you avoid spikes in blood sugar levels.
  • It improves bone strength and density which helps prevent osteoporosis (bone loss) which happens naturally as the body ages.
  • It promotes fat loss. Anaerobic exercises such as interval training (think, cycling) helps you burn more fat, and it helps fade away the appearance of cellulite by plumping up collagen in your skin.

And the list could go on…sounds great right?? But how do you do it? Where should you start? First, anaerobic exercise is typically more demanding on the body and requires higher levels of exertion. As such, people should ensure that they have a basic level of fitness before engaging in intense anaerobic workouts.

Once you know you are good to go, try cycling or sprint intervals while running. Heavy weightlifting, isometric exercises and swimming can do the trick as well. Any activity that involves short burst of increased activity.

While achieving anaerobic heart rate zones is challenging and uncomfortable, not to mention HARD…it is well worth it to add this gem into your work out mix!




Greta Wilson, Group Exercise Instructor
Hancock Wellness Center – McCordsville


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