Aerobic exercise: Here’s what it really does to your body

Group doing aerobic exercise on rowing machines in gym
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Personal trainers and exercise physiologists often talk about aerobic exercise and they may casually refer to it as cardio. The latter, however, is a catch-all term that more closely refers to any form of exercise that increases your heart rate. Aerobic exercise, meanwhile, is any form of exercise that uses oxygen (aerobic actually meaning “with oxygen”).

Whether you’re hot pedaling on the best exercise bikes (opens in new tab) or swimming laps at the local pool, your heart rate and oxygen intake will increase, occurring simultaneously while being technically different. Some exercises such as weightlifting (opens in new tab) or strength training do not count as aerobic (or cardio), as the oxygen intake (and heart rate increase) is not sustained for long enough to be classed as an aerobic exercise.

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