In a nutshell; aerobic exercise is the use of carbohydrates or fat + oxygen to produce energy for long term exercise.
The Literal translation of Aerobic is "with air."
The term aerobic means to use oxygen in the body's metabolic or energy-generating process (the opposite to anaerobic exercise that doesn't use oxygen.). All exercises that are performed over a period of 2 minutes at a low to medium intensity are aerobic.
During the beginning stages of aerobic exercise, glycogen is broken down to create glucose, which then reacts with oxygen to create carbon dioxide and water which releases energy. If there are no carbohydrates available the body uses fat instead. The use of fat metabolism as an energy source is a slow process which affects a decline in performance level. The switch to fat from carbohydrates is the primary cause of what marathon runners call "hitting the wall".
Any long term exercise performed at a medium to high intensity is aerobic. Here are some examples:
The opposite to aerobic is anaerobic - which is short bursts of high intense exercise that doesn't use oxygen for energy. You can read about anaerobic exercise here.
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