Aerobic versus Anaerobic

You may have heard these terms used interchangeably when it comes to exercise. So what is the difference between aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise? A one word answer to that question is oxygen. Let’s explore what is meant by aerobic and anaerobic.


Aerobic exercise is defined as exercise that requires and allows the use of oxygen to replenish energy stores. Your body is working aerobically if you are lungs and heart are working overtime to restore you. If it gets your heart pumping (stationary bikes, stair climbers, treadmills, etc) then it is aerobic exercise.


So if aerobic exercises uses oxygen to replenish energy, anerobic forces your body to make energy without the use of oxygen. Now this doesn’t mean holding your breath while doing your exercise, but it means the demand is so much that your body has to get energy from your body’s natural chemistry. This type of exercise is usually defined as weight or strength training. You are performing isolated, limited movements on specific muscles. A lunge, for example, requires a great deal of energy to perform and if you are doing a set of 10 to 15 lunges, you will feel your heart pick up, but you are burning more than oxygen to fill the energy deficit.

You Need Both

A balanced fitness program utilizes both aerobic and anaerobic exercise in order to maximize your fitness. This means using cardio (aerobic) for building endurance, heart and lung health as well as burning calories along with strength training (anerobic) for building muscle strength, burning calories and increasing your overall fitness.

What types of aerobic and anaerobic exercises do you perform?

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About Heather Long

Heather Long is 35 years old and currently lives in Wylie, Texas. She has been a freelance writer for six years. Her husband and she met while working together at America Online over ten years ago. They have a beautiful daughter who just turned five years old. She is learning to read and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. An author of more than 300 articles and 500+ web copy pieces, Heather has also written three books as a ghostwriter. Empty Canoe Publishing accepted a novel of her own. A former horse breeder, Heather used to get most of her exercise outside. In late 2004, early 2005 Heather started studying fitness full time in order to get herself back into shape. Heather worked with a personal trainer for six months and works out regularly. She enjoys shaking up her routine and checking out new exercises. Her current favorites are the treadmill (she walks up to 90 minutes daily) and doing yoga for stretching. She also performs strength training two to three times a week. Her goals include performing in a marathon such as the Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness or Team in Training for Lymphoma research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience through the fitness and marriage blogs.