Most things in the world are not black and white, and fitness is one of them. Running is a fantastic cardiovascular workout that can help you get healthy and keep the love handles at bay. Answering which is more beneficial to a runner, aerobic or anaerbobic respiration, is not a one-word answer. The truth is that it depends on your goals and the type of running you do.
The technical definition of aerobic respiration is a form of cellular respiration that requires oxygen to produce energy, according to Biology Online. Endurance running that lasts over two minutes uses aerobic respiration. Your heart begins to pump harder and faster, while your breathing rate increases when you run. You are bringing in more oxygen for your cells to produce energy so that you can continue running. So for endurance workouts, aerobic respiration is more beneficial.
Anaerobic respiration is your body's way of producing energy when little to no oxygen is available. This is used for up to the first two minutes of exercise, or when you exercise so hard that you can't catch your breath. Every person has a limited supply of readily available energy to use when needed. This is used anaerobically because your body does not have to make it on demand. Anaerobic respiration is important for sprinting, or for that last kick at the end of a workout where you are pushing your hardest.
Most people tend to view running as an endurance activity, or cardio. They run for an extended period of time at a steady pace, using aerobic respiration. A typical workout might look like this: a five-minute warm-up walking briskly, a run at a moderately vigorous pace for 20 or more minutes, and a cooldown by walking for five minutes. This will use aerobic respiration, strengthen your heart and help you lose weight or keep it off.
Incorporating Anaerobic Respiration
Increase the challenge of your workouts by adding some sprints for anaerobic respiration. Sprinting is high intensity and will raise your heart rate higher than normal for short periods of time, and burn a lot of calories. Keep the sprints under two minutes so that you don't go aerobic. You can add sprints into your workouts a few different ways. Try incorporating them into your regular running workouts. Warm up, then sprint for 30 to 60 seconds followed by two minutes of light jogging. Repeat for at least 20 minutes and end with a cooldown. Or try incorporating sprints into your weight-training routine for intense intervals. Do two to three resistance exercises back to back in a mini circuit. Hop on a treadmill and sprint for one minute, then do the circuit again. Incorporate the sprints throughout your session for a more intense workout.
Bethany Kochan began writing professionally in 2010. She has worked in fitness as a group instructor, personal trainer and fitness specialist since 1998. Kochan graduated in 2000 from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, Medical Exercise Specialist and certified YogaFit instructor.