Sometimes we have great intentions to exercise but get hung up on the technicalities. Perhaps you are wondering what aerobic, anaerobic, and cardio all mean. Are there differences between these exercise types?

The quick answer is yes there are differences. Cardio and aerobic exercises are essentially the same, but with a slight difference in their mechanisms.

Cardio exercises are those that increase your heart rate. Aerobic exercises are those that use more oxygen. Anaerobic exercises don’t use oxygen but require short, intensive bursts of energy.

What are Cardio and Aerobic Exercises?

Cardio and aerobic refer to exercises focused on cardiovascular inputs. They increase your breathing and heart rates, boosting blood flow to the muscles and the lungs so you can have enough energy to keep moving.

Cardio and aerobic exercises bring a wide range of health benefits, especially for the heart. They can help you lose weight, regulate your blood pressure, increase your stamina, boost your immune system, and improve your mood. They can also lower your stress levels and improve your sleep quality.

Some examples of cardio and aerobic exercises include swimming, brisk walking, running, cycling, burpees, and jumping jacks. They can vary in intensity from low, to moderate, to high.

Here’s an important reminder. If you haven’t been exercising for a while and you have been fairly sedentary, you need to start slow. If you have a chronic health condition, you must consult your doctor and seek clearance before you do intensive aerobic exercises.

What are Anaerobic Exercises?

Anaerobic exercises don’t use oxygen as the primary source of energy. Instead, they use your stored energy to fuel your movements that require quick bursts of power and maximum effort for a short period.

You can also benefit from anaerobic exercises in many ways, particularly in building your muscles and losing weight. They can help strengthen your bones, burn fat, and increase your stamina for everyday activities.

Anaerobic exercises include weightlifting, sprinting, jumping, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), yoga, and circuit training.

Anaerobic exercises are recommended if you have been working out for a long time. If you are a beginner, it’s better to start with aerobic exercises first and establish your endurance.

When you are ready to do anaerobic exercises, it is better to work with a professional and experienced trainer and seek your doctor’s approval. These movements require proper execution of techniques to avoid injury.

Which One is Right for You?

Aerobic, cardio, and anaerobic activities can all benefit you in many ways, emotionally, physically, and mentally. People who exercise regularly have lower stress levels, better sleep, and longer life.

Which one is right for you depends on your goals and current fitness level.

If you are a beginner, aerobic exercises are more appropriate to start with and build the habit of exercising. Start slow and with low-intensity activities, then build up your routine and add anaerobic activities gradually. Ideally, you should spend 30 minutes five days a week doing aerobic or cardio exercises.

If you have been exercising regularly and want to build more muscle or make athletic improvements, anaerobic exercises can help you. You can add anaerobic movements to your routine twice or three times per week, with one full day of recovery in between.

Again, if you have existing health conditions, you should consult your doctor to ensure exercise safety. Although low to moderate-intensity workouts are generally safe even when you have some health issues, it’s always best to check, as personal safety is a case-by-case basis.

In Closing

Aerobic and cardio are essentially the same but with a slight difference in mechanism, but they happen together, so they are treated as one. They use oxygen to fuel your muscles, so your heart rate is faster, and you breathe heavier as you do sustained activities for a time.

Anaerobic is different because instead of oxygen, it uses the stored energy in your muscles to do bursts of movements for a short period. Both bring benefits to your health, such as helping you lose weight, improving your sleep, and strengthening your bones and muscles.

For beginners, aerobic exercises are a good way to start, and then you can add anaerobic activities gradually.