What Is Anaerobic & Aerobic in P.E.?

Regular physical activity among children improves strength, controls weight and reduces stress.
i Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Exercise can be grouped into two basic categories: aerobic and anaerobic. While most people can give you a basic definition of aerobics, anaerobic exercise can be a bit more difficult to explain. Simply put, aerobic means “with oxygen” and anaerobic means “without oxygen.” This is referring to whether or not your body uses oxygen to provide energy for your workout. Both types of exercise are necessary, providing different benefits for the individual. For P.E. teachers, it’s important to have a mix of both aerobic and anaerobic exercises to form a well-rounded fitness routine for students.

Difference Between Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise

The primary difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is how your body derives energy for each type of activity. During aerobic exercise, your body produces energy by burning carbohydrates and fat with the use of oxygen, which is what fuels your workout from start to finish. Because you get oxygen with each breath you take, aerobics are classified as an endurance activity. Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, involves quick spurts of intense activity. When you’re doing an anaerobic exercise, energy comes from carbohydrates alone, and oxygen isn’t used in this process.

Aerobic Exercises for P.E.

There are tons of aerobic exercises that are ideal for P.E. class. Brisk walking and jogging are both examples of aerobic exercise, but group sports such as soccer and basketball also count as aerobics. Organizing a game of tag or having students participate in dance activities also work well for children in P.E. Essentially, any exercise or activity that gets students moving over a longer period of time will fulfill the aerobic portion of a fitness program.

Anaerobic Exercises for P.E.

Anaerobic exercises usually involve strength-training activities that build muscle. Provided you have the necessary equipment, older students can benefit from weightlifting with the use of machines or free weights. Resistance bands are another useful tool for anaerobic exercise, and children of all ages can use these for muscle strengthening exercises. Other forms of anaerobic exercise that don’t require equipment and are appropriate for P.E. include pushups, pullups and crunches. Even group activities like tug-of-war, which most kids love, qualify as anaerobic activity.

Benefits of Both for P.E. Students

Aerobic and anaerobic exercises make up two crucial elements of a total fitness routine. Aerobic activity will help keep extra weight off and reduce kids’ risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and also improve their cardiovascular health. Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, will help build muscles and make them stronger. Both forms of activity can also have a positive impact on their mental outlook; the endorphins released during exercise will boost their mood and help them cope with everyday challenges. P.E. class provides an excellent opportunity to educate students on the types and importance of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, while allowing them to experience firsthand the benefits of such activities.

the nest