When it comes to anaerobic vs aerobic exercise, they just have one little difference, and that is oxygen. But this one little word makes all of the difference when it comes to your workout and these types of exercises. So, let’s get into it. Anaerobic vs. aerobic exercise, what’s the difference?
What is Aerobic Exercise?
Aerobic literally means “with oxygen.” It’s the sort of workout that promotes the flow of oxygen throughout your body. During anaerobic exercise, you should be able to have a conversation (though it may be a little hard to get through). These exercises include jogging, some weight lifting workouts, Zumba, brisk walking, etc. The American Heart Association suggests aerobic exercise 5 to 7 times a week for at least 30 minutes. That may sound like a lot, but those 30 minutes can be broken up throughout the day, and include walking, hiking, paddle boarding, and all of those other fun activities you already love to do.
What is Anaerobic Exercise?
On the other hand, anaerobic means “without oxygen.” So, these workouts are met with maximum effort for short periods. You won’t be needing to complete 30 minutes 5 – 7 days a week with these workouts. Instead, you should do these exercises 2 to 3 times a week with rest days in between. Truly rest— anaerobic exercise requires it. During the actual exercise, though, you may be able to do a few seconds to two minutes of anaerobic exercise at a time with breaks in between. Meaning, a 20-minute workout will have short sprints (as an example) of maybe 1-minute long, and then short rests 30 seconds to 1 minute long to bring your heart rate back down, typically repeating this pattern for your entire workout.
Which is Better?
When it comes to anaerobic and aerobic exercise, both are fantastic for you. When you do one, it benefits the other. So, if you want to run a marathon, which is a form of aerobic exercise—during a marathon, you need to breathe, send oxygen through your body, and maintain energy—you will need stronger muscles to help you power through and be faster. So, anaerobic strength training will help. If you are a runner or a weight lifter, consider introducing new and fresh workouts into your routine that take you out of your comfort zone.
Balance is Key
A great workout routine has a balance: aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise, and rest. But the most important piece is to listen to your body. You may want to run 6 miles at the beginning of your workout, but your body asks you to stop at 1 mile—that is A-ok. Your body knows what it needs. And that goes for all exercises. Listen, rest, hydrate, and give yourself a little grace when you slip up.
How to Get Started
If you are new to working out or have been working out for years on end, a group exercise class is a great place to step outside of your normal routine and learn something new. I offer both aerobic and anaerobic training in my group exercise classes. For anaerobic activity, try classes like kickboxing, BODYCOMBAT, Boot Camp, or one of our high-energy Team Training sessions. For aerobic workouts, you can try classes like Zumba or Aquafit. Ask an instructor to see which class is best for you and then try one out! You will be glad that you did and may even learn a workout you never even knew existed in the process.