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Aerobic Vs. Anaerobic Exercise

Abhijit Naik Feb 20, 2020
Before you venture into the world of fitness, understand the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercises. With each having their own pros and cons, it becomes necessary to compare them to find out which workout will be ideal for you.
An activity can be both aerobic and anaerobic; running is no exception. When you are out jogging/running the next time, try talking to someone, or to yourself. If you don't gasp for breath whilst doing so, it is aerobic. If you do, then it is anaerobic.

Differences between Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercises

  • Energy is produced with the help of oxygen; this energy is used to fuel the body for a prolonged activity.
  • These exercises re performed at moderate intensity for a longer duration. They improve the overall oxygen consumption of the body and simultaneously boost body metabolism.
  • Here, oxygen is used to breakdown glucose into pyruvate.
  • Aerobic exercises facilitate proper circulation of blood and oxygen in the body. They also help in reducing blood pressure, burning fat, and developing stamina by building your lung capacity.
  • They are continuous, and are to be performed without breaks.
  • No lactic acid build up is associated with this workout, so you are not subjected to pain or distress.
  • If you opt for aerobic workouts, you can begin with a short, low intensity warm-up.
  • They are simple, moderate intensity workouts, which are performed for a longer duration (lasting for about 20 minutes). They require high body endurance levels.
  • They include long-distance running, cycling, skipping, jogging, etc.
  • Energy is produced without the help of oxygen; in case of these exercises, the energy requirement of the body exceeds that provided by breathing, and therefore, the body is forced to work without oxygen.
  • Owing to the lack of oxygen, they are only performed in short bursts.
  • Here, phosphocreatine is used to breakdown glucose into pyruvate.
  • Anaerobic workouts help improve strength and muscle mass and in developing force, thus enhancing the individual's power, speed, and metabolic rate.
  • They have short breaks in between, which help in recovery.
  • The lactic acid build up associated with this activity often results in pain and numbness.
  • If you opt for anaerobic workouts, start with a longer, moderate to high intensity warmup, as your muscles will be subjected to immense wear and tear during this process.
  • They are high intensity workouts performed for a short duration (lasting for about 2 - 3 minutes), and do not require a lot of endurance.
  • They include sprinting, weight training (machines and free weights as well as bodyweight training), power lifting, resistance machines, etc.

Which is Better for Weight Loss?

Many people are of the opinion that aerobic exercises are better for weight loss. That, however, is just a misconception.
Cardiovascular exercises, such as jogging and skipping, do help in weight loss, but anaerobic exercises have a slight edge over them, as they burn fat even after the workout when the body is at rest. They help in building muscles, and in the process, burn a significant amount of calories.
When used consistently, aerobic exercises do help in fat loss, but then they also pose a threat to the body mass and strength of an individual. Besides this, those who indulge in these exercises are also vulnerable to overuse injuries which are associated with their repetitive approach.
Anaerobic exercises do have a slight edge over aerobic counterparts, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will be ideal for you. An individual suffering from backache, for instance, should ideally choose aerobic workout, as lifting weights can aggravate his pain
The best option, therefore, is to consult a fitness expert or your doctor, undergo a proper health check up, and then determine which exercise is good for you, aerobic or anaerobic.