If you step into any gym, you'll see a few different sections. Some sections are for machines, some are for free weights, and others are for the aerobics class and all the stationary bikes, treadmills and rowing machines. All of these can be put into two different, broad, categories: Aerobic, and Anaerobic exercise. In this article, you'll learn the benefits of both, so you can figure out which one you want to focus on more.
The basic differences between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is how the body utilizes oxygen in the creation of energy. In aerobic exercise, the body uses the oxygen that you breath in conjunction with other mechanisms to generate energy. You can sustain aerobic activity for quite a long time, so long as you keep breathing. Anaerobic activity, on the other hand, uses purely stored energy for movement. This is only good for short bursts of energy, such as running up a flight of stairs. Once the energy is spent from anaerobic activity, you will soon become out of breath and have to stop.
One of the main benefits of aerobic activity is that it is remarkable for cardiovascular health, as well as weight loss. Since you can do aerobic activity for extended periods of time, it's perfect for burning fat, as once you switch into fat burning mode, every calorie you burn will come from stored fat. That's why people that tend to do plenty of aerobic activities are slender and flexible.
Since almost all popular aerobic activities focus primarily on the legs, the upper body does not get much of a workout. Most long distance runners are not really known for their six pack abs and stunning biceps. This is likely the main drawback to a pure aerobic activity based exercise plan.
With anaerobic exercise, short bursts of exertion create a growth in muscle tissue, leading to stronger and larger muscles. Through specific exercises, you can sculpt your body any way you like. This is probably the largest draw to anaerobic exercises.
Anaerobic exercises do have their drawbacks. Those that devote their own exercise plan to these kinds of exercises will not usually develop much flexibility. And while the cardiovascular workout is better than nothing, it is nowhere near as good as longer exercise with aerobic activity.
What is probably the best thing to do, unless you are training for a specific event, is to combine both cardiovascular, or aerobic activity, with anaerobic, or weight training. That way you'll get the best of both worlds, and enjoy all the benefits.