Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. All opinions remain my own. You can learn more about our editorial policies here.
Aerobic and Cardio exercises. Many people know these terms, but how many of them are aware of the difference between Aerobic and Cardio Exercises? We find it useful to think of them as “what” we do, and “why” we do it.
This article will explore what aerobic and cardio exercises are, how they work in conjunction with one another to help you reach goals, and when to use which one.
What Is Aerobic Exercises?
Aerobic exercises are any exercise or activity that uses oxygen to produce energy within the cells. This is different than anaerobic exercises, which only use energy stored in the muscles, without the benefit of oxygen.
Activities such as running, swimming, cycling and dancing are all aerobic activities because they require oxygen to provide energy to working muscles. While you can do these activities for long periods of time before becoming breathless or fatigued, you can’t keep going forever. That’s where cardio comes in…
What Are Cardio Exercises?
Cardiovascular exercises, or ‘cardio’ as it is commonly called, are a type of aerobic exercise where the goal is to improve heart and lung function, in addition to improving cardiovascular endurance.
You can read more about cardiovascular training here. Cardio exercises include activities such as jogging, running on a treadmill, riding an exercise bike or rowing machine.
Cardiovascular exercises are aerobic exercises because they increase lung and heart function as well as muscle endurance. To enjoy these benefits, it’s recommended to perform at least two 30-minute cardiovascular sessions per week. Add resistance training on top of that to increase strength, muscle tone and your ability to burn fat.
Benefits of Aerobic Exercises
Before we can get into these exercises in depth, there is one more distinction that needs to be made. If you are just starting an exercise program, it’s important that you don’t confuse aerobic exercises with weight training.
When you do weight training, your muscles build and gain strength. During this process, many novice trainers place too much emphasis on what the muscles look like and not enough on how they feel. Aerobic exercise is different; it does not build muscle and does not increase strength. Instead, it improves your ability to burn fat and do more work before becoming fatigued.
Aerobic exercises are also a great way to burn fat, and they can be used as part of a weight loss program. While aerobic exercise will not change your actual weight (you can’t lose weight by removing body fat), it will help you lose inches around the waist and increase your endurance so you can do things you may have been avoiding for fear of being too tired.
Aerobic exercises are also great for improving health. When your heart and lungs are stronger, they function at higher levels. This can improve blood flow to the brain, resulting in improved focus and concentration, as well as alleviating many of the symptoms of depression.
Take your fitness to the next level, Pros and Cons of Pre-Workout
Aerobic exercise also increases circulation, which helps move nutrients throughout your body more effectively.
Benefits of Cardio Exercises
As stated above, cardio exercises are the main focus for developing endurance and increasing the heart and lungs’ ability to do more work before becoming fatigued. Also, one of the most common questions people ask about cardio exercises is what the difference is in burning fat when you run or ride a bike as opposed to swimming or doing an exercise video. The answer lies in the ‘fat burning zone’.
When you run, your heart beats faster and harder. As a result, the heart must work harder to move the same amount of blood. This means that more oxygen and nutrients are needed to keep you going. As a result, you burn more calories when running than when swimming or exercising on a stationary bike or treadmill.
Adding Aerobic Exercises to Your Workout
Aerobic exercises are great for increasing endurance during running and cycling, and also for increasing strength and endurance during weight training. However, adding them as a separate activity can be a challenge if you have a busy schedule.
The best way to incorporate aerobic exercises into your routine is to change your exercise routine every few weeks. For example, you could run for a few weeks and then bike for another few weeks. Or bicycle one day and row the next.
Are Aerobic and Cardio Exercises the Same?
We know that aerobic and cardio exercises are not the same, but what is the real difference between them? In this context, they perform similar roles. The big difference is in the way you do them.
For example, if you are doing an aerobic exercise such as running on a treadmill, you will be able to do it for an extended period of time because all of your body systems work together, including the cardiovascular system. On the other hand, if you are doing a cardio exercise such as taking a brisk walk, you will become tired after just 20 minutes. In fact, if you’re doing cardio exercise long enough to burn calories, it may make you feel very tired.
When To Use Aerobic and Cardio Exercises
Aerobic and cardio exercises are used differently depending on what your goal is. If you are looking to lose weight and build muscle, aerobic exercises should be performed 2-3 times per week in addition to resistance training.
For example, if you are running on a treadmill three times a week, you can also incorporate weight training sessions into your workout schedule, where you will perform 1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise. If you are simply trying to get more active and enjoy your workouts for the sake of enjoyment, aerobic exercise is ideal.
Conclusion Cardio Exercises vs Aerobic Exercises
We know that aerobic and cardio exercises are kind of the same but but they refer to slightly different mechanisms. Hopefully this article has helped you unpack the difference between the two. A simple way to remember the difference is that cardio exercise makes you tired and aerobic exercises make you tired after a long period of time.