Endurance exercise is one of the four types of exercise along with strength, balance and flexibility. Ideally, all four types of exercise would be included in a healthy workout routine and AHA provides easy-to-follow guidelines for endurance and strength-training in its Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults.
They don’t all need to be done every day, but variety helps keep the body fit and healthy, and makes exercise interesting. You can do a variety of exercises to keep the body fit and healthy and to keep your physical activity routine exciting. Many different types of exercises can improve strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. For example, practicing yoga can improve your balance, strength, and flexibility. A lot of lower-body strength-training exercises also will improve your balance.
Also called aerobic exercise, endurance exercise includes activities that increase your breathing and heart rate such as walking, jogging, swimming, and biking.
Endurance activity keeps your heart, lungs and circulatory system healthy and improves your overall fitness. As a result, people who get the recommended regular physical activity can reduce the risk of many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
When you’re ready to do more, you can build on your routine by adding new physical activities; increasing the distance, time, or difficulty or your favorite activity; or do your activities more often. You could first build up the amount of time you spend doing endurance activities, then build up the difficulty of your activities. For example, gradually increase your time to 30 minutes over several days to weeks by walking longer distances. Then walk more briskly or up hills.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?
Building your endurance makes it easier to carry out many of your everyday activities. If you’re just starting out on an exercise routine after being sedentary, don’t rush it. If you haven’t been active for a long time, it’s important to work your way up over time.
Start out with 10-15 minutes at a time and then gradually build up. The AHA recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate to vigorous activity per week. Thirty minutes a day five days a week is an easy goal to remember. Some people will be able to do more. It’s important to set realistic goals based on your own health and abilities.
EXAMPLES OF ENDURANCE EXERCISE:
- Walking briskly
- Running / jogging
- Climbing stairs at work
- Playing sports such as tennis, basketball, soccer or racquetball
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO BUILD ENDURANCE?
Try these tips to help bump up endurance a notch. With some smart training and nutrition guidance, that Ironman may totally be within reach!
Rest up. To go long and hard, athletes need fresh muscles, says Greatist Expert John Mandrola: “Go hard on hard days; go easy on easy days; and never string hard days together without adequate rest.” Feeling fresh can help anyone go the distance.
Eat right. When it comes to exercise nutrition, carbs are key, since the body uses glycogen for fuel when the goin’ gets tough . Once glycogen runs out, the body turns to energy from other sources, and begins to burn fat. For extended cardio sessions, consume 30-60 grams of carbs every hour, depending on body weight. Studies have also found a mix of carbs and protein can enhance endurance performance and reduce muscle damage—win! . That said, keep in mind that the best mix of carbohydrates, fat and protein varies considerably amongst athletes, says Mandrola. Experiment, experiment, and experiment some more to find the right combination for you.
HIIT it up. It might sound crazy, but often less really is more. High intensity interval training—aka quick bouts of intense exercise—can help improve endurance in conjunction with traditional training . Need some ideas on how to mix it up? Run some stairs or try a track workout for some speed. Just remember to get plenty of recovery after these workouts—they’re intense!
Add some strength. When it comes to endurance training, variation is important. Resistance training can strengthen our bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles—helping improve overall fitness and helping with that final sprint to the finish . Mix up aerobic exercise with kettlebells, dumbbell, and bodyweight exercises to help improve stamina
Turn on the tunes. Could it be as easy as pumping up the volume? Listening to music has been shown to boost endurance performance while walking, so it doesn’t hurt to work out with some tunes. The mind-body connection is especially strong among endurance athletes, and any pick-me-up can help when the going gets tough .
Work on what’s weak. People often find their fitness niche and stick to it. Instead, Mandrola advises people to mix it up in order to build endurance: Marathoners should work on speed, and flat-landers should stomp those hills. Getting to that personal best means working on what’s most challenging.
Drink beet juice! Yup, it’s science. One study found nitrate-rich beets may help increase stamina up to 16 percent by reducing oxygen intake in athletes (It remains unclear if other nitrate-rich foods produce similar effects) . So consider drinking some beet juice along with that bowl of pasta the night before race day. You never know. Just remember that beet juice can be high in sugar, so use in moderation.
Train smart. The gradual adaption principle—that is, slowly and steadily increasing mileage and speed—is a great way to build endurance. There are ways to do this safely to avoid injury, from running on soft surfaces, to getting enough sleep and drinking tons of water.