Exercise, regardless of type, is beneficial for your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week (3). Aerobic exercise is any type of cardiovascular conditioning that elevates your heart rate for an extended period of time. However, it’s not the only kind of exercise you should be doing, as anaerobic exercise is equally important too. The focal difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is the level of intensity. Aerobic exercise is lower in intensity compared to anaerobic exercise. During aerobic exercise, it’s easy to talk, whereas during anaerobic exercise, talking would be quite difficult.This article will tell you everything you need to know about anaerobic exercise vs aerobic exercise, including their benefits to your health and ways to incorporate both types into your workout routine.
What Is The Difference Between Aerobic And Anaerobic Exercise?
When you do aerobic exercise, your body uses oxygen to help convert glucose into energy. This type of exercise is usually performed at a moderate intensity for a long duration (2). Some examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming.
When you do anaerobic exercise, your body breaks down glucose without the use of oxygen. The process results in a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles (2).
Anaerobic exercise is usually of high intensity and is performed in short bursts. Its examples include sprinting, weightlifting, and HIIT (high-intensity interval training).
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Aerobic Running Vs. Anaerobic Running
A common misconception is that all types of running are aerobic. However, the truth is, there are two types of running– aerobic and anaerobic. So, what’s their difference?
Aerobic running is any type of running that keeps your heart rate at a steady state. This means that you’re breathing deeply and rhythmically, and your heart can pump enough oxygenated blood to your muscles to keep them running for an extended period.
Anaerobic running, on the other hand, is any type of running that causes your heart rate to spike. This happens when your body starts to produce lactic acid faster than it can be removed from your muscles. When this happens, you start to feel fatigued and your muscles start to feel like they’re burning.
So, which type of running is better for you?
The answer to this question depends on your goals. If you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular endurance, then aerobic running is the way to go. However, if you’re looking to build muscle or improve your speed, then anaerobic running may be a better option.
How Do Aerobic And Anaerobic Exercise Benefit Your Health?
There are several benefits of both types of exercise.
Benefits Of Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise has been shown to:
Improve Cardiovascular Health
Your cardiovascular system consists of your heart and blood vessels. Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart muscle and improves the function of your arteries. This lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure (1).
Promote Weight Loss
Aerobic exercise burns calories and helps you lose weight. The more intense the activity, the more calories you’ll burn (1).
Increase Lung Function
Aerobic exercise strengthens the muscles used for breathing and increases your lung capacity (1).
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Benefits Of Anaerobic Exercise
Anaerobic exercise has been shown to:
When you lift weights or do other types of anaerobic exercise, you create tiny tears in your muscle tissue. As your muscles repair themselves, they grow stronger. This is why anaerobic exercise is often used to build muscle (4).
Improve Bone Density
Weight-bearing anaerobic exercises, such as weightlifting, help improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis (4).
Anaerobic exercise can help you produce more force and power. This is why it’s often used by athletes who need explosive movements, such as sprinters (4).
While aerobic exercise burns more calories overall, anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, burns more calories in a shorter time. This makes it an effective way to torch fat (4).
How To Incorporate Both Types Of Exercise Into Your Workout Routine?
To get the most benefit from exercise, aim to include both aerobic and anaerobic activities in your workout routine.
You can do this in several ways, such as exercising:
On Active Rest Days
Rest is a crucial component of any workout routine. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch all day. On days when you’re not lifting weights or doing other anaerobic exercises, you can still get in a good workout by doing some aerobic exercise.
For example, you could go for a jog, swim laps, or take a dance class.
Within Your Aerobic Workouts
You can also mix things up by adding some anaerobic exercise to your aerobic workouts. For instance, you could do a HIIT workout on the treadmill or bike. You may also add some sprints to your jog.
Both Types Of Exercise On The Same Day
If you’re short on time, you can do both aerobic and anaerobic exercises in the same workout. Just be sure to give yourself a few minutes to catch your breath in between the two types of activity.
No matter how you choose to incorporate both types of exercise into your routine, remember that consistency is key. The more often you exercise, the more benefits you’ll see. So find an exercise plan that works for you and stick with it!
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Sample Workout Routine With Aerobic And Anaerobic Exercise
This workout routine consists of primarily strength training days with active rest days. On the active rest days, you’ll do some aerobic exercise to keep your heart healthy and help you lose weight.
Day 1: Lower Body Strength Training
- Barbell squats: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Dumbbell lunges: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Leg press: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Walking lunges: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Day 2: Upper Body Strength Training
- Barbell bench press: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Dumbbell overhead press: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Dumbbell rows: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Pushups: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Day 3: Active Rest Day
- Moderate-intensity aerobic activity for 30 to 60 minutes
Day 4: Posterior Chain Strength Training
- Deadlifts: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Good mornings: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Hyperextensions: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Glute bridges: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Day 5: Upper Body Strength Training
- Pullups: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Dips: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Cable rows: 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Inverted rows: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 6: Active Rest Day
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity for 30 to 60 minutes
Day 7: Total Rest Day
What Burns More Calories Aerobic Or Anaerobic?
All factors held constant – i.e., same muscle group, intensity, and duration – anaerobic exercise will burn more calories than aerobic exercise. This is because anaerobic exercise requires more energy from the body per unit of time than aerobic exercise.
Aerobic Vs. Anaerobic: Which One Is Right For You?
Now that you know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise, you might be wondering which one is right for you.
The answer to this question depends on your fitness goals.
Do aerobics if you are:
Looking To Build Stamina
Stamina refers to your body’s ability to sustain long-term physical activity. If you’re looking to improve your stamina, then aerobic exercise is the way to go (1).
Concerned About Your Cardiovascular Health
Aerobic exercise is good for your heart. It helps improve your cardiovascular fitness by strengthening your heart muscle and increasing your blood flow (1).
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If you’re new to exercise, then you should start with aerobic exercise. It’s a good way to get your body used to physical activity and build up your stamina.
Do anaerobic exercise if you are:
Looking To Build Muscle
If you want to build muscle, then you need to do anaerobic exercise. This type of exercise helps stimulate muscle growth (4).
Wanting To Lose Body Fat
In comparison to aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise is more effective at burning body fat. This is because it causes your body to use more energy (in the form of calories) in a shorter period (4).
Training For A Competitive Event
If you’re training for a competition, then you’ll need to do some anaerobic exercise to improve your performance. This type of exercise helps to increase your speed, power, and agility.
Do both if you are:
Looking To Improve Overall Fitness
If you’re looking to improve your overall fitness, then you should do both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. This will help to ensure that you’re getting the most benefit from your workouts.
No matter what your fitness goals are, remember to always consult with a doctor or medical professional before starting any new exercise program. This is especially important if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
Precautions To Take When Doing Both Aerobic And Anaerobic Exercise
If you’re going to be doing both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind:
Before you start your workout, it’s important to warm up properly. This will help prevent injuries and make sure that your body is ready for physical activity.
Cool Down After Your Workout
After you finish your workout, it’s important to cool down and stretch. This will help your body to recover from the exercise and reduce the risk of injuries.
Drink Plenty Of Water
It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re exercising. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout.
Listen To Your Body
If you start to feel pain or discomfort, stop exercising and consult with a doctor or medical professional. It’s important to listen to your body and take breaks when you need to.
Give Yourself Time To Recover
Remember to give your body time to recover after a workout. This means getting plenty of rest and taking breaks when you need to.
Work With A Personal Trainer
If you are new to exercise or have any medical conditions, working with a personal trainer is a good idea. They can help create a safe and effective workout plan that meets your needs.
The Bottom Line
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to aerobic or anaerobic exercise. It all depends on your fitness goals. If you’re looking to improve your overall fitness, then you should do both types of exercise.
However, if you have a specific goal in mind, then you may want to focus on one type of exercise over the other. Remember to always consult with a doctor or medical professional before starting any new exercise program.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Aerobic exercise: Top 10 reasons to get physical (2022, mayoclinic.org)
- Anaerobic vs. Aerobic Exercise: What’s the Difference (2019, aurora.edu)
- How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need? (2022, cdc.gov)
- The benefits of anaerobic exercise (n.d., piedmont.org)