What is the Difference Between Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise?


What is the Difference Between Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise?

IMG_1325When most of my personal training clients think of losing weight they think of doing aerobic exercise but there are actually two different ways to burn calories: aerobic and anaerobic exercise.  So what is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise?

  • Aerobic Exercise.  During aerobic exercise, the body uses oxygen as its main energy source.  Aerobic exercise, also known as cardiovascular exercise, uses fat as fuel and is performed at a steady rate for a sustained period of time.  The benefits of aerobic exercise are it strengthens the heart and lungs, burns fat and releases endorphins which enhance mood.  Examples of aerobic exercise are marathon running, long distance cycling and swimming.   
  • Anaerobic Exercise.  Anaerobic exercise is high intensity exercise that is performed in short bursts with rest in between intervals.  Oxygen is not present during anaerobic exercise.  Anaerobic exercise requires a huge amount of energy so the body breaks down glycogen to fuel the muscles involved.    However, the body cannot break down glycogen quickly enough to sustain the exercise for long periods of time so lactic acid builds up and fatigue sets in.  The benefits of anaerobic exercise are it builds lean muscle mass in the body which boost the metabolism to burn excess calories even at rest, it builds endurance and it increases bone strength and density.  Examples of anaerobic exercise are sprinting, weight lifting and interval training.

Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise are important for building a strong, healthy body.  Because anaerobic exercise is intense, a period of rest is necessary to allow muscle groups to recover and recuperate where aerobic exercise can be done on a more frequent basis.  Striking a balance between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is the best way to meet your weight and fitness goals.

For more information about aerobic and anaerobic exercise, weight training, or health and fitness, or if you’ve been thinking about hiring a personal trainer, contact us.


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