I think it’s very interesting to note, that what is commonly thought of as the truth about any subject, is usually outdated and quite often totally false. I can only speak about my field of health, fitness and longevity for sure, but I suspect it is also true in other areas as well. The myths of cholesterol, calcium, sunlight and aerobic exercise are all good examples.
Aerobic exercise is exercising using large muscle groups, legs, hips and arms, while using large amounts of oxygen. Running, walking, cycling, swimming, water workouts, and dancing are good examples.
There is no doubt that most any form of aerobic exercise offers some benefits such as better circulation, improved respiration, better muscle tone and a feeling of well being. However most people are doing aerobic exercise for weight loss.
In the past aerobic exercise was touted as the best way to burn fat, lose weight and protect the heart. However recent studies have put these assumptions in question.
Burn Fat- Lose Weight
Studies and real life experience from many of the top fitness trainers show, that long bouts of medium intensity aerobic exercise like jogging are not very efficient at burning fat. Many people will admit that they have been jogging for hours and can’t get rid of their excess body fat.
Short bouts of high intensity exercises such as weight training and aerobic intervals training are much more effective and time efficient. It seems this type of exercises keeps the metabolism raised for a longer time, thus burning more calories.
Spinning on a stationery bike for 20-30 minutes with several 30-60 second sprints is best. It is convenient and easy on your joints. You can also do interval wind sprints while running, cycling or swimming.
Running is very popular, however many people would be better off power walking or swimming. I see many people running with knees wrapped up, struggling with bad posture. If you don’t have joint problems and can run easily with good posture, then running is fine. However it isn’t necessary to run for more than a few miles, especially if you are running on a hard surface like the street. I highly recommend running only on grass, sand, dirt or running tracks, if you want to preserve your joints and avoid over use injuries.
Improving Heart Function
Aerobic endurance training is supposed to improve heart function. Think about this; the heart is already an amazing endurance muscle. It can beat non stop 50-80 times per minute for up to 100 years. If that’s not super endurance I don’t know what is. The heart doesn’t need to be trained for endurance unless you want to compete in endurance events. The heart needs to be trained to withstand moments of high intensity stress. High intensity stress can come from life and death threatening situations of all kinds and from extreme emotional times.
Short bouts of high intensity aerobic exercise will prepare your heart to withstand the stress of maximum heartbeat required to meet a certain challenge.