There are common terms used in the fitness industry all the time. It occurred to me that fitness professionals often speak their own language and that readers of these fitness concepts might not even comprehend what they are talking about…so how do you make a change if you don’t know what you’re changing?
Well, let’s tackle it.
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic
Aerobic literally means “with oxygen”. During aerobic exercise, adequate fuel (glucose, fats, etc.) + oxygen allow muscles to contract repeatedly without fatigue. You could perform aerobic exercise for a very long time. Great examples are walking, jogging, swimming or biking.
Anaerobic means “requiring no oxygen”. During anaerobic exercise muscles rely on reactions that do not involve oxygen – typically involving lactic acid (glucose in the muscle) for energy. You can only get energy in this way for a short amount of time. It typically occurs with short-spurt, high-energy activities where you can barely catch your breath and get fatigued. A great example is running sprints.
We basically use both conditions when we exercise. The proportion between the two changes depending on exercise intensity.
VO2 Max is the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can utilize during intense exercise. It is the best indicator of an athlete’s cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance.
Maximum Heart Rate is the theoretical maximum rate in which your heart can beat for your age. It is not recommended that you exercise at this rate! To calculate for a healthy individual, use the equation 220 – Your Age.
Once you have your maximum heart rate, you can calculate a target heart rate range (many gyms and trainers offer this as a reference for the level of your exertion). For example, if you are targeting to work at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate and your maximum heart rate is 180, 70% would be 126 beats per minute.
Metabolism refers to the chemical reaction of a cell or living tissue that transfers usable materials into energy (ie. fat into energy). “Raise your metabolism” refers to the rate you are able to use this energy.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is one of several methods to assess body composition (fat vs. muscle). It is calculated by dividing your weight by your height in inches. The controversy over using BMI as a “healthy” indicator is that muscle weighs more than fat and the ratio can fluctuate person to person. To get a true indication of your body composition, you should conduct a body fat analysis that is measured with calipers or other more sophisticated means.
Dynamic vs. Static stretching
Dynamic stretching is the recommended form of warming up your body before exercising. It includes slow, constant movement that mimics the workout you are about to do – not held stretches!
Static stretching is highly recommended at the completion of exercise. It is a method of stretching large muscle groups (quads, hamstrings, back) by holding each stretch for at least 6 seconds. This helps to relax and elongate your muscles.
Interval Training is a type of exercise program that combines high-intensity and low-intensity timed intervals in a single workout to maximize burning fat.
Plyometrics is a form of training that uses quick movements to increase muscular power (jumping up onto a box or high bench) and usually involves an explosive movement.
Soluble Fiber vs. Insoluble Fiber
Dietary fiber is found naturally in the plant foods that we eat. It’s a carbohydrate the body cannot digest so it passes directly through the digestive tract.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel to help slow down digestion. It delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel fuller, longer. It also slows down the absorption of fats and sugars. Some examples of soluble fiber include oatmeal, lentils, flaxseed, beans, etc.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, but rather absorbs water. It has a laxative effect and adds bulk to your diet, helping prevent constipation. Since insoluble fiber does not dissolve, it passes through your body in-tact. Sources include grains and vegetables such as whole wheat, bran, seeds, nuts, brown rice, cabbage, etc.
Type I Diabetes vs. Type II Diabetes
There is a lot of discussion in the fitness industry about how eating a healthy diet can prevent diseases such as diabetes. There are two types of diabetes, and only one can typically be improved by diet and fitness.
Type I diabetes is when you have a total lack of insulin to help process glucose (energy) in your body. In this case, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. It is typically genetic, cannot be prevented and requires insulin injections.
Type II diabetes is when you have too little insulin or cannot use insulin effectively. It can develop at any age and is often a result of an unhealthy lifestyle or diet. In many cases, it can be prevented and cured by maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly and exercising regularly.
If there are other fitness terms you would like us to cover, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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