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Using Energy, Burning Fat Ė Pt. 1, The Aerobic and Anaerobic States

Iíve heard so many things about how fast should you walk, and you should be able to carry on a conversation, but you need to do strength training and at least 20 minutes of cardio 4 times a week, but 30 minutes is better and on and on and on. Thereís all sorts of tips that we get told whether itís on a TV show like The Biggest Loser, from doctors, from trainers or even just the scuttlebutt in the locker room as we exchange information to help one another. So whatís correct?

ATP: Adenosine Triphosphate Ė Where your energy comes from
ATP is found in every cell of the body. Lots of ATP is needed during exercise. ATP has three phosphates in it. When one of the phosphates is broken off, energy is released so that the cell work can be done. The remaining two phosphates (now called adenosine diphosphate since there are only two of them) are converted back into ATP (called resynthesis) so that the process can be repeated for more energy. The breakdown and resynthesis happens so quickly that itís almost simultaneous.

Obviously, it takes energy to resynthesize ATP. Your muscles use three energy systems to resynthesize ATP. Numbers 1 and 2 below are anaerobic systems. They do not require oxygen. Number 3 below is an aerobic system and does require oxygen.

1. the phosphagen system
2. the anaerobic glycolytic system
3. the aerobic system.

The aerobic system has an almost unlimited capacity for making ATP, because it uses fats, proteins and carbs for energy. Your body primarily uses the aerobic system for energy throughout the day and night for most everything you do. However, it is a very complex process, and it relies on a constant supply of oxygen; therefore, the aerobic system produces ATP much too slowly for the requirements of short, intense activities. When the aerobic system can no longer support the ATP requirements of your body, muscles recruit the two anaerobic energy pathways to help create the ATP supply. What makes the anaerobic systems significant is their ability to resynthesize ATP very quickly, because their process is simpler, and they do not require oxygen.

To Summarize
If all this seems much to complicated, that's ok. It took me quite awhile to grasp it. Think of it this way. For your average daily activities and exercise, your aerobic system provides the energy that you need. However, maybe you are doing some moderate to intense exercise in the gym. You might be doing some heavy manual labor on the job or in the yard. Perhaps you just need extra energy to climb several flights of stairs or carry your baby. When your muscles need more energy than your aerobic system can supply, the two anaerobic systems kick in to help.

Using Energy, Burning Fat
Part 1: The Aerobic and Anaerobic States
Part 2: Anaerobic Energy Systems
Part 3: Aerobic Energy System

I'm not a doctor or trainer. I'm just another person like you who is trying to learn about the body and how it works in relation to health and exercise. The information from this blog entry comes from Personal Fitness Training: Theory & Practice. The information here is my understanding of what I read. As with anything related to health, be sure that you check with your physician or certified trainer to make sure it is accurate and appropriate for you.


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CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING RELATED TO HEALTH AND FITNESS! I am under a doctor's care for my general health, and my workouts are overseen by a professional trainer. I consult with licensed dieticians about what I eat. I am blogging about my experience here in the hopes that it might inspire you to get healthy as well. However, you must realize that I am not a doctor. The views on this site are only my opinion or understandings about what I'm learning. In some cases, I'm just reporting about what I find from other sources. Therefore, before you do any type of exercise, change your diet or make other health related decisions, check with your doctor, trainer, dietician, nutritionist or other health professional.

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