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Anaerobic vs Aerobic Exercise

anaerobic aerobic

When most people think of exercise they probably think about aerobic exercise. You might think of walking, biking, running or swimming; all of which are aerobic exercises. You may not have ever even heard of anaerobic exercise and don’t know what the difference between anaerobic and aerobic exercise is. Let me explain!

By Definition

According to Harvard Health, aerobic exercise is “muscle movement that uses oxygen to burn both carbohydrates and fats to produce energy.” Anaerobic exercise is “muscle movement that does not require oxygen and only burns carbohydrates to produce energy.”

Aerobic Exercise

As I mentioned, aerobic exercise uses oxygen in its energy production. Activities can include walking, biking or swimming. These activities can cause your heart rate and breathing to temporarily increase. Aerobic exercise is long-duration exercise with low-moderate intensity that can help build endurance. Benefits of aerobic exercise include:

  • Weight management
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Chronic conditions management
    • Aerobic exercise may help control blood pressure and blood sugar. It can also help improve your good (HDL) cholesterol

Anaerobic Exercise

When you think of anaerobic exercise, think of short bursts of high-intensity activity. This can include weight-lifting, sprinting, jumping or any other exercise that is short in duration and high in intensity. Benefits of anaerobic exercise can include:

  • Increased lean muscle mass
    • People who are physically inactive can lose 3%-5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30 which makes it so important to incorporate regular strength training into your exercise routine.
  • Increased bone density.
    • Weight bearing exercises (such as weight lifting) can help strengthen bones and improve bone density. This may decrease your risk for osteoporosis.
  • Boosts metabolism.
    • This may be the best benefit. You’ve probably heard the saying “muscle weights more than fat” but muscle also burns more calories than fat too! The muscle mass you build from strength training will help you burn more calories throughout the day, even when you’re sitting at your desk working.

What it Means for Your Workout Program

If you’re wondering what to include in your workout program the answer is simple…both! A balanced workout program should include both aerobic and anaerobic activities. A combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise can help improve your endurance and increase your strength.

What are your favorite forms of exercise? Leave a comment below!


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10 Responses to Anaerobic vs Aerobic Exercise

  1. Julia October 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Swimming is a wonderful aerobic exercise that can help control your weight as well as increase strength and flexibility. Start off slow and soon you’ll be a healthy champion swimmer in no time!

    • Laura Miller October 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks, Julia! Swimming is a great exercise–good for the cardiovascular system with less impact/ wear & tear on the joints too. I’ve been swimming once a week or so and always feel great after. An awesome exercise for sure.

  2. xls fat burning tablets January 23, 2014 at 12:02 am #

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    • Laura Miller January 23, 2014 at 7:54 am #

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Workout March 31, 2014 at 1:14 am #

    Awesome post..!!

    You have very nicely explained the differences between anaerobic and aerobic exercise.
    I was unaware of many facts about the anaerobic exercise which you have told in this post. It was good to go through your post and I really got to know many things on anaerobic and aerobic exercises. Hope to see more blog posts on workouts in near future.

    Thanks for sharing..!!

  4. Thank you for every other superb post. The place else might everyone get that variety of information in this ideal way with words? I’ve a display following weeks time, and i am to the look for similarly info.

  5. andy May 29, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Anaerobic exercise also has the benefit for those short on time, as you can do an excellent high-intensity interval routine in 30 minutes.


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