Boost Your Exercise Endurance in 6 Simple Steps
Endurance, or being able to exercise for a sustained period of time, isn’t just important for those who want to run marathons or compete in multi-hour fitness challenges. Endurance is also what will help you get through that tough cardio kickboxing class or push yourself to go an extra block on your morning run.
To increase your stamina and be able to stick with an intense workout for longer, you need to improve the way your body uses oxygen when exercising. Building up your endurance takes time, but there are a few things that can help speed up the process:
- Take shorter breaks. When you’re lifting weights, it’s natural to want to build in pauses and give your muscles a break. But studies have found that limiting rest is key to building muscle endurance. To do this, shorten your break time by 10 seconds. Then your next trip to the gym, shave off another 10 seconds. (Depending on your goals, if you need to lift lighter weights to do this, that’s fine.) Eventually your body will adjust to your new pace, allowing you to power through your workout without so many breathers.
- Increase your intensity. Research shows that short and intense HIIT workouts, like sprints or burpees, tell your body to increase production of mitochondria in your muscle cells. Mitochondria acts like a power source and feeds the body energy to help build endurance. Normal exercise increases the production by about 20 to 30 percent, but HIIT exercises boost production levels by nearly 200 percent, while increasing metabolism.
- Add variety to your routine. Your muscles have memory, and if you do the same workout every day, your body will adapt to the routine and it will stop requiring as much effort. This does nothing for your endurance. That’s why it’s important to vary the kind of activities you do and how intensely you do them. If you always go for a jog, try doing the stair climber or taking a spinning class instead.
- Fuel up. When attempting longer bouts of exercise, the food you eat beforehand becomes even more important. One to two hours before lacing up your sneakers, eat a small portion (200 calories or so) of carbohydrates with a little bit of protein added in. Research has also found that nitrate-dense foods, like beets, celery, spinach and other leafy greens, can help increase endurance during exercise by boosting blood and oxygen flow to your muscles.
- Set the mood. Don’t make exercise feel like torture. The more fun it is, the longer you’ll last! Try picking unique and fun exercise classes so you don’t start to feel bored or create a playlist full of songs you love. This can keep you from focusing on the workout and prevent you from giving up.
- Stay hydrated. If you get dehydrated in the middle of a workout, you could feel fatigued faster than normal. In addition to what you normally drink per day, have three to six ounces of water during every 20 minutes of exercise.
Photo Credit: Victor Freitas