The Aerobics Myth

The Aerobics Myth

The Aerobics Myth

For years we were made to believe that aerobics was the best way to loose fat and get fit. People often mistakenly believe that all forms of cardio are aerobics. It is not so! An aerobic workout involves working out at an intensity that is comfortable and does not get you out of breath. It involves activities that can be done for a long time. Some examples of aerobic workouts include gentle walking for 1 hour, jogging at a slow pace for 45 minutes, etc. Even while resting and sleeping we are doing an aerobic workout.

Anaerobic workouts on the other hand involves activities that get you out of breath, for eg. sprinting, skipping rope, weight training, free hand calisthenics, Kickboxing etc. These types of workouts are intense and have a varying pace throughout the workout.

Research has shown that long term aerobics increases free radicals in the body, can degenerate joints, reduces immune function, causes muscle wasting, and can cause a pro-inflammatory response in the body that can potentially lead to chronic diseases. On the other hand, highly variable cyclic training has been linked to increased anti-oxidant production in the body and an anti-inflammatory response, a more efficient nitric oxide response (which can encourage a healthy cardiovascular system), and an increased metabolic rate response (which can assist with weight loss).

So then why do people still continue to favor aerobics for fitness? It is so because of the brainwashing over the years and the fact aerobic workouts are EASIER! Think of it we use aerobic energy while lying on the bed, so do we get fitter as a result of it?

The man credited with the boom of aerobics is Dr. Kenneth Cooper. It all started when he published his book “Aerobics” in 1968. However in later years he went on to admit that “there is no correlation between aerobic endurance performance and health, longevity or heart disease protection”. So if the father of aerobics has admitted it, then why should others continue to do aerobics?

Another major pitfall of Slow Long Distance (SLD) aerobics is that it might make one smaller, but not toned. Basically it creates a smaller version of your current untoned body. You will not develop your six packs that way. SLD training also causes loss of muscles. This slows down your basal metabolic rate, which makes fat loss tougher in the future.

If you have been heavily dependent on SLD training then you should use interval training to replace SLD. Interval training involves doing intense work mixed with lighter work. For eg. if you go for a run, then run hard for a minute followed by 2 minutes of light jogging. Repeat this cycle 6-8 times. The idea is to vary your pace throughout the workout. Go hard and then go slow to recover. Intervals are proven to be much more successful than SLD, and they are fun to do. Another major advantage of intervals is that they do not require a lot of time. 15-25 minutes of intense exertion is enough!

When you start intervals start with moderate and light pace. Then gradually increase the moderate pace to fast. So forget SLD aerobics and do intervals, weights, bodyweight exercises, Kickboxing, etc. to get fit and slim!

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad