Fitness example: Anaerobic exercise

Anaerobic exercise can generally be seen as those activities that push your muscles close to their maximum capacity for short periods of time – either for the purpose of strength or speed. Benefits of this kind of exercise include protection against various forms of degenerative disease, improved strength, speed and agility, reduced risk of injury to muscles, tendons and bones, increased metabolic rate (making it harder to put on fat), as well as some psychological benefits such as stress reduction, improved self-esteem and better sleep.

Weight training is the most widely used form of anaerobic exercise and also the best way to build muscle. The only problem with incorporating weight training into your self-sustaining active fitness environment is that it is not all that much fun (for me at least). Going to the gym to lift weights is therefore not something that I can realistically see myself doing consistently for the rest of my life (which automatically disqualifies it from my personal healthy environment).

But even though weight training is not my favorite activity, it does happen from time to time that I feel the need to lift some weights. For this reason, I bought myself two very innovative adjustable dumbbells (video below) and a weightlifting chair so that I can easily do a few reps whenever I feel like it. The costs amount to only about one year of gym membership so it definitely is a financially savvy choice as well.

Another tactic I found to be very helpful is to simply have one light weight in hand while walking around the room, dictating to my computer (as discussed in an earlier post). In fact, this is what I’m doing right now and, without even thinking, I have already racked up a large number of light bicep curls and shoulder lifts. I do this light lifting for 20-30 minutes every morning while writing the first draft of my daily post and would highly recommend this tactic to anyone who writes a lot (a blogger for example). (Note that heavy weight training requires at least 48 hours of rest between sessions.)

But weight training is not the only form of anaerobic exercise. Any form of training where you push your body to the max for a short period of time falls in this category. Sprinting is a common form of anaerobic exercise. So is hillclimbing. This implies that aerobic exercise (as discussed in the previous post) can also contain a significant anaerobic component. The particular aerobic activities that I engage in regularly (cycling, cross-country skiing and rugby) all offer many opportunities for short bursts of anaerobic exercise which I always make good use of.

So, do some thinking about ways in which you can incorporate some enjoyable and automatic anaerobic exercise into your daily exercise routine. It complements aerobic exercise very nicely and is an important part of optimal health.

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