Aerobic literally means "with oxygen", and refers to the use of oxygen in muscles' energy-generating process.
Aerobic exercise includes any type of exercise, typically those performed at moderate levels of intensity for extended periods of time, that maintains an increased heart rate.
In such exercise, oxygen is used to "burn" fats and glucose in order to produce adenosine triphosphate, the basic energy carrier for all cells.
Initially during aerobic exercise, glycogen is broken down to produce glucose, but in its absence, fat metabolism is initiated instead.
The latter is a slow process, and is accompanied by a decline in performance level.
The switch to fat as fuel is a major cause of what marathon runners call "hitting the wall." There are various types of aerobic exercise.
In general, aerobic exercise is one performed at a moderately high level of intensity over a long period of time.
For example, running a long distance at a moderate pace is an aerobic exercise, but sprinting is not.
Playing singles tennis, with near-continuous motion, is generally considered aerobic activity, while golf or doubles tennis, with their more frequent breaks, may not be.