Taking Care of Your Heart: Anaerobic Vs. Aerobic Excercise

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Taking Care of Your Heart: Anaerobic Vs. Aerobic Excercise

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Your heart beats around 100,000 times a day.  Made of 60,000 miles of blood vessels that keep up to 2,000 gallons of blood moving each day – your body relies on your heart to bring blood to tissues and organs, veins, arteries, or capillaries.  The heart sends blood traveling roughly 12,000 miles throughout your body each day, which adds up to four times the size of the United States from coast to coast.  

Your heart stays active each day – do you?


The heart is a complex muscle that requires a consistent routine of smart diet choices, stress control, and a healthy dose of daily exercise to maintain its strength.  The amount of different exercise routines and fitness options, alone, are often overwhelming.  However, a closer look at aerobic and anaerobic exercises, as well as the ways in which each benefit your heart health, helps you gain a better understanding of what your heart needs to stay healthy.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is the type of activity that results in your heart pumping and your lungs to pick up speed.  Also known as cardiovascular exercise, this type of fitness often comes in the form of swimming, running, or power fitness classes and has a direct impact on a body’s air circulation system. Because aerobic exercise requires you to use large muscle groups for extended periods of time, this type of exercise causes effective calorie burn which often leads to weight loss goals.  Aerobic exercise, even for just 30 minutes a day, four to five days a week, can result in significant improvement in your heart health.

Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic exercises often involve workouts that primarily put your muscles to work, instead of your body’s air circulation system.  During an anaerobic exercise, your muscles don’t rely on oxygen as its primary source of energy.  Also known as resistance training, anaerobic exercise includes short exertion fitness routines, such as yoga or weight lifting, that cause your body to get its energy from phosphates and glucose.  This type of exercise builds muscle strength in ways that improve cardiovascular endurance and heart health.  

“Everyone, if they’re able, should exercise at least 30-40 minutes a day,” shares Dr. Tim Martin with UnityPoint Clinic Cardiology, “Something as simple as going for a walk, using a machine at the gym, swimming – anything that requires you to use big muscle groups, will have a positive impact on your heart.”  Keeping in mind the importance of staying away from highly processed, fatty foods, your heart depends on the lifestyle choices you make.

“In terms of diet, the most important thing you can do is not eat to the point where you’re putting on pounds,” adds Dr. Martin, “Eating fatty, processed foods often leads to diagnoses like inflammation, which result in heart health concerns like coronary heart disease.”

Regardless of the type of exercise that works best for you, your commitment to staying active promotes a healthy heart.  The next time you go for a brisk walk or short jog, place your hand over your heart.  You’ll notice it beating a little louder or faster.  

Scientifically speaking, a heartbeat is the noise your heart makes when its valves open and close – sending oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.  Metaphorically speaking, we like to think that’s just your heart saying, “Thank you.”  

For more information on how to improve heart health or maintain a healthy heart, visit unitypoint.org or unitypoint.org/livewell.