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Use Aerobic Exercise as a Building Block

There is More to Cardio than Just Running


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I cannot do many of the exercises. At 80 years old many of my joints scream back at me when I try to do things that I know I can't. I can use the Cross Country skiing machine though (it is called the Gilette machine). It doesn't hurt my knees or my legs. If you slow start, it is great. Joan Report
Love Zumba!!!!!!!!
Jazzercise! It is the one thing I do that I really love. 6 days a week Report
ZUMBA!! is one of my faves Report
Zumba!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Report
I love step aerobics and riding my bike! After I'm done, I feel relaxed and accomplished. I try to do at least 30 mins. of cardio every day. I actually LOVE to workout!!! Report
Two things I enjoy the most - elliptical machine and jump rope!
I wanted to try walking and jogging but one, afraid to do this in my neighbourhood (lots of scary feral dogs and weird strangers) and two, just hate it when everything at my body seems to jiggle, wiggle too much, haha.

Curious though, when exactly do we do aerobic and anaerobic? Sequentially (such as do one first until getting easy then the other one) or together (such as in one week, do one at one day, other on next day)? Report
There are many ways to skin a cat and the same hold true for weight loss.

I lost weight last year merely by reducing caloric intake. So that's one way. Another way is to increase your metabolic rate thru increasing the amount of lean muscle mass through weight training and/or aerobic exercise(one increasing muscle mass more quickly than the other), another yet is to combine diet and exercise. A healthy dose of moderation and common sense is always a good ingredient to include in the mix.

There's room for all ways!! Personally I feel better emotionally and physically when I exercise. And the better I feel the better choices I seem to make regarding what and how much I eat.

As for the studies that are done proving or disproving this or that? Give it a few years or less and another contradictory one will emerge, no doubt.

If it's working for you and you are getting stronger and healthier than that's what matters, isn't it?

I appreciate the wealth of resources and support available at Sparkpeople. Thank you SparkPeople!!

I would just like to "weigh in" in terms of this whole "aerobics burning fat" debate. I am a regular exerciser; I have a trainer with whom I lift weights and I run on my own a few times a week. I also do hot yoga weekly.
In my experience, I lift weights to tone and "burn fat" (everyone knows, the more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your base metabolic rate). The weight lifting is what has changed my physique. The aerobic exercise does play a role too, although it is easily which point the body can start to burn muscle. I find 3-4 sessions of 20-25 minutes of high intensity intervals to be more than sufficient. It also make me feel great.
The point I am trying to make is exercise IS important to changing your body, but lifting weights or some kind of resistance training is MUCH more beneficial than 5-6 hours a week on the elliptical. If you lift weights three times a week, and jump rope or do some kind of plyometric exercise (burpees or mountain climbers) in between sets, or limit rest periods, that should be more than enough. Aerobics do strengthen the heart, though...always a good thing. Report

Thanks for listening to the things I uttered from my blowhole. And congratulations on your 50 pounds down. Great work.

And I respectfully acknowledge achieved this while following the conventional principles, including exercise. But I ask, is it possible your fat burn came during the 23 hours a day you weren't exercising? Even gym rat trainers will acknowledge fat loss occurs outside the gym in the moments when you are not exercising. In the hours when you are not eating carbs, your body can turn to burning fat. I only only suggest you consider the possibility, even if you exercise, it's not the miles you ran that did it... it was what you ate when you weren't working out.

But however it happened, the important thing is you are losing the fat and getting healthy. I know how much better you're feeling because I lost a lot of weight too. So great job! Congratulations.

And may you continue to have a great, productive life.

Rup Report
Re: The Time article.

The piece is indeed poorly written, superficial and badly supported... like many Time articles. They basically assert that because it so easy to offset calories by eating after a workout burning fat is difficult. True enough, it is easy to consume more calories after a workout than you burned during it, but just because many of us do that doesn't mean we must do that. Why not just heed this lesson and not eat? And besides, the concept of "calories" is so 1990s. :)

But however poorly supported, their assertion is correct. I'm no fan of Time Magazine. But I am someone who lost 100 lbs in 2006 and then 50 more this summer without any aerobic exercise other than normal day to day activity. That led me to investigate this issue. And my mention of Time Magazine is only because I'm glad to see someone in the press at least floating the idea even if they can't get their head and their prose around the real meat of the issue.

The real reason almost no one loses fat on a treadmill or in spin class (and I am referring to "fat", not generic "weight") are more nuanced than Time reports and more long winded than I am willing to go into here - altho I have plenty of wind, despite my lack of exercise :)

To give you some pieces of it (and you will find these things to be easily verifiable):

Your body won't burn fat when it is making insulin. And eating carbs before, during or after a workout in almost any amount can produce an insulin response and does in most of us because we are so used to eating excessive carbs. It's a generalization, but for most of us a bottle of Gatorade during a workout will be enough to trigger insulin. Eating anything with carbs equal to a bagel before working out will probably do it. Insulin is called the fat storage hormone. It takes sugar from your blood and stores it as fat. It is worth repeating... if you eat, you probably produce insulin, and insulin creates fat. When insulin is at work, fat is being stored, not burned. Period. Calories in and calories burned are insignificant in that environment. If you want to lose weight, quit your gym, sell your shoes.... and have your doctor talk to you about blood sugar and insulin.

Additionally, your body when exercising will burn all the available glucose (sugar/carbs) in your body for energy, then burn the glycogen stored in your muscles, and only then start thinking about burning fat (and muscle). Which is why they say you have to work out for at least 30 minutes to get results (a one shoe fits all generalization, but almost all nutritional discussions are). Problem is aerobic exercise is considered an emergency situation by the body - and in fact it is - so the body begins trying to preserve fat. About the time your body starts looking for something else to burn, hopefully fat rather than muscle, it also slides into panic mode and starts hoarding.

Ever been to a marathon and seen people with pot bellies or big asses running? How can that be when they run dozens of miles a week to train? It's probably for two reasons. One, they "carb up" to work out, and carbs become glucose and lead to insulin. And two, their bodies are afraid these grueling workouts represent the way it has to live from now on and works hard to maintain status quo. I have a triathlete friend who runs an ungodly number of miles per week and can't beat those last 15 lbs she has been trying to lose for 4 years. It's likely because she eats a carb based diet and exercises too much. Her grueling exercise schedule probably keeps her from gaining additional weight. There is no doubt she can eat more (and does) because she burns more. But all that burning does nothing to get those last few lbs off and may be the reason it sticks to her. This is difficult for her to accept because exercise is a religion for her. Her trainer supported what I am saying, so she quit seeing him.

I'm not saying aerobic exercise burns no fat, ever. I am saying it only does so in the briefest of windows and then only if your diet already has you burning fat by default (we humans are either fat burners or sugar burners and diet determines that).

You know it's true in your heart. One thing the Time article did get right is pointing out that America's obesity and diabetes rates have exploded during the same decades that the number of gyms, trainers, diet books and media discussions of weight also multiplied. I live in a Texas city, and when I was in college there were three gyms in town. Now there are 3 on my street and 2 more within a 10 minute drive. Half the people I know have trainers, heart monitors, gym memberships and a Nintendo Wii Fit and still they move up a shirt size every couple of years. You've seen the same thing, and the numbers are readily available. America is obsessed with exercise. America is also getting fatter and fatter. Do the math.

Now, let's take a breath.... I am not anti-exercise. I said this before: Exercise helps regulate insulin and that could and should indirectly lead to fat loss in most people. It also is fun, makes you stronger, tones your body, and improves your heart, lungs. And moderate, non stressful exercise is extremely important for the brain. People who don't move can even develop severe cognitive problems. And people who are sedentary are likely to gain weight. Daily walking is a great habit. Your brain will thank you.

But for those of you who swear you have lost fat (not muscle, not water, but fat) on aerobic exercise, I will still insist it is because a) you helped balance your insulin response and b) exercising, for many, makes them more mindful of diet. Unfortunately, exercising also makes many of us LESS mindful of diet, and hungrier, exactly the assertion of the Time article.

If you lost actual fat during periods of aerobic workout, it is certainly from these 2 factors (insulin and diet awareness) and not from hours spent running or biking. It's also likely you exercised in moderation. Excessive exercisers damage their bodies in a number of ways. I think humans should be daily walkers, not runners, bikers or spinners. At least not if their intention is to burn fat.

Ultimately, what I am saying is that the idea of aerobic exercise as we know it does not merit being discussed as an equal partner to diet. It's not 100% inconsequential, and it appeals for other reasons but it is so inconsequential to fat burn that an aerobics class membership is a waste of money and ever increasing levels of exercise are a waste of time (and in some cases a detriment to your health) unless you have other goals. And the idea to lose weight we need to log countless hours of exercise is indeed, as Time says, a "myth". And it's misleading to overweight people who are already frustrated. The last thing they need is to feel shame about not exercising enough in addition to the shame we all feel being overweight.

100 years ago no one would have suggested long periods of aerobic exercise for fat people, and 10 years from now we will all be conceding it was overstated. By then, any one with an education in exercise and nutrition will be acknowledging that the fitness industry pushed it well past the point where it was scientifically justifiable, while food companies urged us to work out more and keep carbing up.

Indeed, the whole calories in calories out paradigm is shifting - which is why you see so many diets that claim you can eat as much as you want of certain foods. Now that we understand hormones better (Leptin was only discovered in the 90s, and insulin research has multiplied now that Diabetes is becoming an epidemic), calories and the burning of calories are coming to be seen as practically irrelevant. Hormones like Insulin and Leptin are the real story. That's just newer information and harder to explain information. And don't expect personal trainers or web sites devoted to exercise to be the first to tell you about it.

Ask your doctor. I did. While I was losing 150 lbs in 3 years without exercise. Report
Basketball is not anaerobic !!!

I also found the Time magazine article irritating in the extreme.

My wife spoke to a friend who struggles with her weight who felt the article justified the fact that she gave up on exercise.

The truth is that exercise plus watching what you eat will yield better results than just watching what you eat.

If you use exercise as a reason to eat a blueberry muffin, chances are you were lokking for any reason to eat that bluberry muffin. Report
I feel bad for the people that read that Time Magazine. article and believes that avoiding exercise will help them lose weight. The article was written to be controversial, which increases customers. The "byline" of that article started his speaking with a self-defeating whine about having to go to the gym and do things he wasn't happy about. The author doesn't want to workout and is making excuses for himself to the world. It is likely that the author of this article stops to eat because exercising is stressing for him.

Anyone can slant a study. Personally, a strong workout doesn't make me hungry, it makes me tired. Personally, I have had not issues of gaining weight while exercising at any intensity.

I liked the message in this article: that one doesn't NEED a gym to or a lot of time to get cardio into their day. The ideas that were provided at the end of the article was addition. Report
I always laugh at the 'newsbreaking' comments that debunks older wisdom. I'm old enough to remember - eat your eggs, they're good for you; don't eat eggs, they're bad for you; only eat the whites, they're good for you; oh wait, the yolks have some good stuff; and on and on. This in about a 20 year period.

I think the best way to look at this is with some common sense.

Eat - in moderation and as 'whole' as possible - stay away from fats and sugar, eat things that come with an 'exit strategy.'
Drink lots of water - we're made up of the stuff and it keeps us well oiled.
Move - whatever makes you happy. Walking is cheap and can fit anyone's schedule. Just find something that you like or you won't keep doing it. Don't do things that hurt.
Breath - in, out.
Think some good thoughts (Spark People's blogs are great.)

Pretty simple if you don't let the negative smoke keep interrupting what you know works for you. Report

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