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Aerobic vs Anaerobic Exercise

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Exercise

, by Ronald de Hoog, 3 min reading time

At times, the fitness component of our health can seem a little overwhelming. In a world where individuals and organizations use social media as their primary marketing platforms, we can find ourselves bombarded with conflicting information and unrealistic expectations. Ultimately, the key to good health, in the long run, is simplicity— correct principles we can understand and subscribe to. 

When it comes to exercise, there is much chatter with regards to what works and what doesn’t, but how much credence should we give to these arguments? Well, to answer that question it’s important that we first understand both aerobic and anaerobic exercise as well as the differences between them. This will give us some valuable insights into what we should be focusing on for our bodies. 

 A Quick Breakdown

In its most general sense, the word ‘aerobic’ means that which relates to, involves, or requires free oxygen. Our bodies, from head to toe, require a consistent flow of oxygen in order to function. Of course, the heart is the organ tasked with facilitating the transport of oxygen to every reach of our body. 

Now, the heart is a muscle, pushing oxygen-rich blood through vascular pathways that interact with our bones, muscles, and organs. As a muscle, the heart can be strengthened with use; the stronger the heart becomes, the more blood can be pushed through our body with each and every beat. Thus, through exercise, our stronger hearts deliver vital resources with less effort.

But the question arises, what exercise is best for increased heart strength?

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is physical activity that increases heart rate and the body’s use of oxygen, typically over a sustained period of time. The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. Such exercise works to condition the heart, aids in weight loss, and is necessary for prolonged health. Some common aerobic exercises include: 

Lower impact movements:

  • Swimming.
  • Cycling.
  • Using an elliptical trainer.
  • Walking.
  • Rowing.

Higher impact movements:

  • Running.
  • Jumping rope.
  • Performing high-impact routines or step aerobics.    

All of the above exercises are great ways to strengthen the heart. But there are other ways we can help our bodies perform more efficiently.

Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic exercise is a type of exercise that breaks down glucose in the body without using oxygen. As can be guessed, the word ‘anaerobic’ means ‘without oxygen’ and is more intense but shorter in duration than typical aerobic exercise. Some common examples of anaerobic exercise include:

  • weightlifting
  • sprinting
  • high-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Interestingly enough, anaerobic exercise can be achieved by performing aerobic movements and vice-versa. If a particular movement is carried out with low resistance over a long period of time (usually exceeding 120-150 seconds), it is more aerobic than anaerobic. If a certain movement is performed as a rapid burst of high intensity where a rest period follows, it is an anaerobic exercise. Whether you are at a gym or using home workout equipment, both can be accomplished in a number of ways. 


Despite their differences, both aerobic and anaerobic exercises are highly beneficial to the heart and body. Anaerobic movements are slightly more effective for fat loss while aerobic movements give the heart a more sustained workout. There are many factors such as age, weight, and existing health conditions that should influence which type of exercise you perform and how intensely. That being said, workouts combining both aerobic and anaerobic elements are almost always the best way to go. Just make sure you listen to your body, know your limits, and consult with a healthcare professional when necessary. 

At LifeSpan Fitness, we provide individuals with world-class workout equipment including office fitness equipment like under-desk treadmills. From fitness guru to keyboard warrior, our home workout equipment is here to help strengthen each and every heart it can.  

For more information contact us today! 

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