Aerobic Exercise and the FITT Principle

Cardiorespiratory fitness best describes the health and function of the heart, lungs and circulatory system. Cardiorespiratory fitness also describes the capacity of the lungs to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the blood, and the transportation of nutrients and waste products to and from the body’s active tissues. Other terms used and applied to the exercise environment are cardiovascular fitness, aerobic endurance and aerobic capacity. These terms are synonymous.

Cardiorespiratory exercise has proved to have many benefits, such as reducing cardiovascular disease by increasing fat utilization and therefore reducing obesity, and the reduction and management of hypertension and cholesterol. Other reported benefits include improved heart function and oxygen consumption, the ability to perform every day tasks more easily, decreased resting heart rate, body fat stores, anxiety and stress and management of diabetes.

A cardiorespiratory program needs to follow general guidelines to ensure maximum safety and effectiveness. These characteristics are essential for measurable improvements. We call this the FITT principle.

Frequency 3-5 times per week

Intensity 60-90% of predicted MHR

Time Duration 15-60 minutes of aerobic exercise

Type Activities; walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, roller blading, cross training, rowing etc.

Exercise FREQUENCY refers to the number of exercise sessions per week that are performed. The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommends 3-5 sessions per week to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and to achieve or maintain optimal body fat levels.

Exercise INTENSITY refers to the amount of effort you put into your training session. There are many methods for monitoring exercise intensity, some have been standardized, and are suitable for application to the general population and for those of different fitness levels.

Heart rate (MHR)

Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

The ‘talk test’ method

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is determined by:

Men 220 – age

Women 226 – age

A 34 year old male, would therefore have a MHR of 186 beats per minute (bpm). Your exercise intensity is then put into the equation to give an exercise intensity that is specific to experience, fitness level, capabilities and relative to your fitness goals. Those just starting an exercise regime, or having a low level of fitness can benefit from intensities as low as 50-60% of MHR. Higher intensities as much as 90% of MHR are better suited to the more physically fit. As a general guideline, 60-80% of MHR is sufficient for the average population with no contra-indications to exercise.

RPE The ‘Rate of Perceived Exertion’ scale considers all factors that influence exercise intensity and how we perceive that exercise including fatigue and environmental conditions. A twenty-point scale has been devised that corresponds with Heart Rate intensities and allows the participant to determine their perceived effort. This method teaches us to listen to our bodies instead of ‘zoning out’ and can be used in conjunction with Heart Rate.

The ‘talk test’: This is an easy method that anyone can use. The talk test is based on the principle that if you cannot hold a regular conversation while exercising, your exercise intensity is too high. The intensity should however, be enough to increase core body temperature and promote perspiration.

Exercise TIME is the duration of the exercise and is dependent on the intensity of the session. The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) suggests a minimum of 15 minutes of continuous exercise to elicit any improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness. More deconditioned individuals may require multiple shorter sessions until they develop a base from which improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness can be made.

Your capabilities, interests, available time, equipment, facilities and personal goals determine exercise TYPE. The options are endless and can include any movement that uses large muscle groups, is continuous in nature (for a minimum of 15 minutes) and utilizes the aerobic energy system.

When beginning an exercise program, it is best to take a conservative approach and start at suggested minimums i.e. 3 times per week for 15-20 minutes at no more than 55-65% of MHR.

This intensity should be gradually increased over the forthcoming weeks and months to elicit changes and improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance.

The health professionals at Fitcorp Asia can design a program specific to your needs and goals, and help you reach your potential in health, mind and body.

Contact us at http://www.fitcorpasia.com or http://www.personaltrainingbangkok.com for more information.

Aerobic Or Anaerobic – Which Is Better?

Aerobic training is exercise that involves or improves oxygen consumption by the body. The word Aerobic means with oxygen. Along with using and improving the body’s oxygen consumption, aerobic training also increases the body’s ability to burn fatty acids during an exercise session. An example of an aerobic exercise session would be one that consists of a warm up, then a moderate level of exercise for an extended period of time that exercises the large muscle groups, and is then followed by a cool down. No matter what the type of exercise, it is important to know that aerobic exercise is very beneficial from fat burning to cardiovascular health and wellness.

Anaerobic training involves exercise that is intense enough to trigger anaerobic metabolism. It greatly increases the body’s functional capacity for development of explosive strength and maximization of the short-term energy systems. An example would be non-endurance sports such as body builders using anaerobic training to promote speed, strength, power and muscle mass. This leads to greater performance in high intensity, short duration activities.

Several physiological responses the body will happen with aerobic training. A person’s aerobic capacity will be higher. There will be an increase in trained muscle capacity which is from the capacity to utilize and mobilize fat that is resulting from high amounts of fat metabolizing enzymes as well as increased blood flow. The body also experiences greater development of slow twitch muscle fibers, increased myoglobin content which is essentially an iron-protein compound inside muscle that acts to store and transport oxygen to the muscle. Aerobic exercise improves the body’s use of oxygen, thus increasing the ability to store it and transport it, which results in greater slow muscle twitch fibers.

A number of physiological changes exist with anaerobic training as well, and will show the large difference between the two and what benefit each one is. Anaerobic training increases the size of the fast twitch muscle fibers vs the slow twitch. Creates an increased tolerance to higher levels of blood lactate as well as increases enzymes involved in the anaerobic phase of glucose breakdown. Anaerobic training also produces increase resting levels of ATP, CP, creatine and glycogen content. High intensity weight training in sessions of 45-75 minutes will cause increased growth hormone and testosterone levels.

Because aerobic and anaerobic training focuses on very different results on the body, it is easy to assume there are many different adaptations the body must make if one were to choose to only exclusively train aerobic or anaerobic.

If one were to choose to do only aerobic training for over one year, you would see increased overall cardiovascular health. The body would adapt to using fatty acids for energy and would target the development of slow twitch muscle fibers. Those who choose to train aerobically are your typical 5k, 10k and marathon runners. Aerobic training will create endurance and those who train aerobically will be able to maintain exercise at a certain level for a longer period of time. What the body will not experience is a gain in overall strength. Aerobic training will not give a person gains in overall strength, power or explosive strength abilities. The body after a year has conditioned itself to utilize oxygen, burn fatty acids, and be an endurance machine. After a year, it would be hard for the person to attempt to try anaerobic training such as weight lifting. However, it can be done with the change of one’s fitness goals and training.

If someone were to choose to do anaerobic training for over a year, the body would adapt to using glycogen as fuel instead of the fatty acids used in aerobic training. The body will use the training to develop fast twitch muscle fibers versus slow, as well as build muscle mass, explosive strength and overall power. The choice to use anaerobic training would allow muscle growth and fitness, but not overall cardiovascular health and no endurance. Body builders are your typical anaerobic training clientele. They have tremendous explosive strength and their bodies have adapted to a large amount of strength for a short period of time versus endurance strength over a long period of time. Many body builders use anaerobic training and no aerobic training and thus it’s not uncommon to see an extremely fit body builder who cannot run/walk/jog for even ¼ mile as they have not had any aerobic training to build their cardiovascular health and endurance abilities.