Anaerobic exercise: What it is and how it affects the body

anaerobic exercise

You’ve most likely heard of anaerobic exercise before, but how much do you know about the science behind this vital aspect of your physical fitness? Enhancing your understanding of the anaerobic energy system is a sure-fire way to empower yourself and give your workouts a boost.

Anaerobic exercise is any physical activity performed at a high intensity for a short spell of time. In reality, that can mean jumping on one of the best exercise bikes (opens in new tab) for a short sprint, skipping or even weightlifting (opens in new tab) – as long as the intensity is high and the duration short, you’ll be placing your body into an anaerobic state.

What is anaerobic exercise?

Mature woman skipping rope in gym

(Image credit: Getty)

An anaerobic routine involves short bursts of high-tempo physical activity punctuated by interval periods of either rest or recovery exercises. Sprinting, pushups, pull-ups, burpees, jumping and throwing are all prime examples of anaerobic exercises as they encompass brief periods of energy-sapping movements.


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