Exercise Explained

There are basically just two kinds of exercise: aerobic and anaerobic. Each kind of exercise has a place in your anti-depression workout kit. Aerobic or cardio workouts primarily improve the cardiovascular system, targeting the heart and lungs. Anaerobic workouts, such as weight training or strength training, improve muscular strength and flexibility, and stretching exercises improve overall mobility and coordination.

So which type of exercise is best? It depends upon your goals. Different types of exercise offer different benefits. The difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercising is the presence or absence of oxygen. Anaerobic, by definition, means without air. Most human body cells use oxygen to receive the energy they need and fuel their metabolism. Oxygen helps the muscle cells to repeatedly contract, without fatigue, during exercise.

Conversely, while exercising under anaerobic conditions, muscle cells now need to rely on secondary reactions that do not require oxygen to fuel muscle contraction. However, this anaerobic cell metabolism produces waste molecules that can impair repeated muscle contractions. These impaired contractions are called fatigue.

Fact

Aerobic and anaerobic are not mutually exclusive states. In other words, your body will never fully switch from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state. Think instead of aerobic and anaerobic as transitional phases in metabolism, where the proportion between aerobic and anaerobic are conversely related to the intensity of the exercise. It's more accurate to say: The greater the intensity of the exercise, the greater the need for anaerobic energy production to supplement the aerobic energy production.

You may be thinking, “But I'm already fatigued!” This is different. Think of it as housecleaning on a cellular level. Fatigue causes muscles to lose power and become weak. The direct effect will cause the body to slow and create a need for a decrease in the intensity of the exercise.

Decreasing the intensity of the exercise allows the muscles to once again contract without fatigue and remove the wasted molecules that are produced. All the time, you're gaining strength.

Isometrics

Alert

Do not stop taking your antidepressant medications, just because you've begun exercising. This is something you need to discuss with your psychotherapist or physician. Sometimes the combination of medications, exercise, and psychotherapy is the right combination.

Isometrics is a type of strength training that uses static positions rather than dynamic ones. This means the angle of the joints being exercised does not move. The exercise is accomplished by holding the muscle in one fixed position. Isometric contractions can be achieved with or without weights, and one of the most popular kinds of isometrics is yoga.

Isometric exercises have several important characteristics:

  • Isometrics has the same benefits as other strength training exercises, as well as a few more.

  • Isometrics helps increase strength faster than traditional training. This is due to the greater intensity of the exercise over a shorter period of time. It is possible to finish a full isometric workout in as little as 15 minutes.

  • Isometrics can be done anywhere. Because they do not require weights, any space where your body can fit can be utilized. It is simply a matter of using the resources around you effectively.

  • Isometrics are safer than traditional training. Because there are no weights, you don't have to worry about being injured by a weight falling on you. Also, the less movement involved, the less chance for injury. This is also why isometrics are commonly used in physical rehabilitation.

What does the word isometrics mean?

Isometrics comes from the Greek iso-, meaning “equal,” and metron, meaning “measure.” In isometric exercise, you essentially use a law of physics — for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction — to create resistance and strengthen your body.

Here are three examples of isometric exercises to get you started and show you how the principles work. The first two exercises target the chest and the last one works your biceps.

  1. If you have a door in your home, you've got all it takes for this exercise. Open the door and, centering your chest, stand in the middle of the doorway and place your hands on either side of the door. Press each hand against the door, as if you were trying to crush the door and make your hands touch. You should almost look as if you are praying. Hold this position as tightly as possible for thirty seconds. Make sure to concentrate on the chest and breathe.

  2. This time, you'll need a floor. Simply put yourself in a push-up position. Slowly maneuver your body halfway down and hold your body steady. Again, be sure to concentrate on the chest and breathe throughout the exercise.

  3. A great isometric exercise for the biceps can easily be done at any desk or table. Position your chest at table level. Now, either sitting or standing, place your hands under the table, with your palms facing up. Apply pressure through the table, as if you were trying to push your hands through the table. Concentrate on the biceps throughout the exercise.

Essential

As people age, it's often useful to reclaim the kinds of physical activities you enjoyed in your youth. Back then, you did them because they were fun. Today, they still have that positive connotation and may still have the power to make exercise enjoyable. The added benefit is that you can call up that old muscle memory and not have to learn a new skill.

Aerobics

If the word aerobics conjures up nightmare images of sweaty people jumping about to a driving primal musical beat, take heart. There's more to aerobics than that — much more. Walking is perhaps the most popular and well-known aerobic activity. Not the casual stroll, however, but a firm, purposeful stride that gets your heart rate up and pumps that good, oxygenated blood throughout your system. That, after all, is the reason for the invention of the treadmill.

If you can't get outside to walk, the treadmill is the next best idea. Once you've gotten the walking action firmly in place, it might be a good time to see what else is out there in the aerobic world. Perhaps you like to dance or garden or ride a bicycle. Branch out!

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