Dr. Phil Maffetone

Your Brain Might be Telling You One Thing, but Your Body is Saying Something Different

Most people think they know what aerobic means, or so they say. When asked, many associate it with breathing, air, or oxygen. Or they confuse it with “cardio” at the gym, where you can also find aerobic dance classes and pool aerobics. In fact, aerobics is a relatively recent form of exercise. It’s not even 50 years old, although humans have been doing it for millions of years. In the late sixties, Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, an exercise physiologist for the San Antonio Air Force Hospital, Texas, coined the term ‘aerobics’ to describe the system of exercise that he devised to help prevent coronary artery disease. Dr. Cooper originally formulated aerobic exercises specifically for astronauts, but soon realized that the same set of exercises such jogging, running, walking and biking are useful for the general public as well, especially those suffering from being overweight, who are more likely to develop various heart diseases. He put together all of the aspects and methods he founded in his book Aerobics, which came out in 1968 and became an immediate national bestseller.

And what about anaerobic? What does this term mean? Being out of breath after short, intense and hard activity? Sprinting 100 yards on the track, going full-speed across the length of the pool, doing pushups until your arms and shoulders ache, or for many, climbing several, or sometimes even one, flights of stairs?

Once you see the difference between aerobic and anaerobic, this knowledge can help you build better health and fitness. So let’s start with a bit of history…

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