Aerobic training is training that improves the efficiency of the energy system that predominantly uses oxygen, carbohydrate and fat to create energy and that improves cardiorespiratory (heart and lung) fitness. This aerobic fitness is defined as the ability to take in, transport and utilise oxygen to produce energy, and training for it is typically sub-maximal work, so not flat out. Although a long aerobic session might leave you feeling tired, it should not be confused with having worked maximally in terms of power output. Good examples of this longer duration sub-maximal exercise are walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and rowing, although many of these types of exercise can be taken into power and anaerobic training if you push really hard.
Your body will begin to adapt and change when you start training in this way, and some fabulous things hapen to the heart.
- The heart will increase in size (just like other muscles it can get bigger and smaller).
- Each contraction (beat) will be stronger.
- The amount of blood pumped in each beat (contraction) will get larger.
- The amount of blood pumped each minute will increase (cardiac output).
- At rest the heart will beat less times while still pumping the same amount of blood.
- The size of your blood vessels will increase.
- There is a decrease in the likelihood of heart disease.
A good comparison is a central heating system. If the pump sending water around all the radiators is small and inefficient then it will have to work hard and as a consequence will wear out more quickly and break sooner. The stronger and larger the water pump the less hard it has to work to keep the system going and so the longer it will last.
So although our personal trainers at Diets Don’t Work might be a bit obsessive about anaerobic fitness, there is still a place for aerobic training over longer durations. The most important thing is to take you body into overload by making it do more than it is habitually used to.