The process of aerobic metabolism is when your body uses oxygen to release energy from carbohydrates and fats – the usual way your body generates the energy it needs to keep itself running. It’s also known as aerobic respiration, oxidative metabolism, and cell respiration. Aerobic metabolism is a chemical reaction that happens in every cell of your body, when fuel molecules are oxidised to release biochemical energy. Basically, every cell is its own “internal combustion engine”. The by-products of this combustion process are carbon dioxide and water, which your body expels by breathing out carbon dioxide, and sweating out excess water.
Exercising speeds up this process of cellular respiration, which is why when you exercise, you breathe more heavily, and sweat more profusely than you do at rest. There are two ways in which the body’s cells can release energy; aerobic metabolism and anaerobic metabolism (you can read more about this second process in the related article). The first way, using oxygen, is the type of cellular reaction stimulated by exercise such as brisk walking, running, swimming or dancing. Cardiovascular machines at the gym such as the rowing machine, treadmill, stepper or elliptical trainer also stimulate the process. This type of respiration causes less soreness in your muscles than more intense exercise, and can also prompt your body to draw on its stored reserves of fat and burn it as energy, helping towards weight loss.
Cardiovascular exercise can not only help you lose weight, it is also an important way to help prevent coronary heart disease, as it strengthens your heart muscle, and also trains your body to use oxygen and generate energy more efficiently.