Cardio & Muscular Endurance
Getting winded walking to the bathroom? Feeling fatigued earlier in the day than you used to? Your endurance may be to blame. Most people think of endurance as a marathon runner, after many miles of running, crossing a finish line in a crowd and drinking a huge bottle of water. Our endurance is so much more than that. It is a product of how well our cardiovascular system is working, how efficiently our heart pumps oxygenated blood through our body, and how well our veins are returning that blood to our heart to get more oxygen from our lungs. It is ones ability to sustain physical effort for an increased period of time. It is a compilation of Cardiovascular and Muscular endurance. That is the body’s capacity to use oxygen effectively (cardio) and the muscle’s ability to work hard over a longer period of time (muscular). Having cardio and muscular endurance improves your body’s overall strength and performance.
We live in a world where watching television is a daily activity, and sitting at a desk for 8 hours is a way of life. These sedentary activities cause our endurance to go down. If you want to improve your activity tolerance/ endurance, you have to train your body. This involves increasing your effort of activity for longer and longer periods of time.
So what can we do to get our endurance back up? The method that will make the greatest impact on increasing your endurance is to CHANGE your routine. Try something new! You will need to vary intensity of your workouts as well. Increase your speed in short bursts with performing running, cycling, rowing, swimming etc. Or decrease the level of resistance or weights and up the number of repetitions you perform. For more information on exercise routines, check out or if you are over 65 and looking for something less intense, try the health living link on www.aarp.org
Sleep & Nutrition for Endurance
Sleep and nutrition are also very important in building your overall endurance. Achieving the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night allows you to increase your ability to work longer and sustain an increased effort. While being hydrated and eating a balanced diet enables your body to increase muscle performance because you’re providing it with the approved fuel. Decrease the amount of processed and sugary foods as these can sap energy. Increase healthy carbs (fruits and whole grains) and iron which is vital for metabolism and oxygen delivery in your blood to your muscles.
This is something that once you build, if you don’t use it- you lose it. So be sure to build up and then continue to be active to maintain that stamina.
Here are some simple things that you can do to keep that activity up:
- Take commercial walking breaks and do a lap around the house every time a commercial break occurs. That will break up those sedentary bouts of time when binge watching your favorite shows.
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator!
- Park farther away from the building when shopping, going out to eat, or going to appointments.
- Go for an afternoon walk or stroll after dinner around the block.
- Walk the dog! They will thank you for taking care of them, and yourself!
Getting your lower extremities moving is the best way you can assist your body in returning deoxygenated blood to our heart. If you’re newly active, try for light exercise a few days per week. If you’re already a more active person, or fairly athletic, you may need to perform more vigorous activities on a daily basis. These include activities like running, jumping rope, cycling, swimming, and other activities that get you huffing and puffing, which increase your lung capacity and give you a strong, healthy heart capable of pumping loads of oxygen through your body. If you aren’t sure what to do, check with a fitness professional or a physical therapist. They can help create an individualized plan or program (with considerations of any underlying medical conditions that you have) that will be safe and effective for you to achieve your goals. The MayoClinic also offers a simple fitness check that you can perform at home to determine a starting point for you and monitor progress.