Is Endurance Exercise Right For You?

Strength is one measure of fitness. There’s also your VO2max or the measure of oxygen consumption. And there’s also your endurance. Endurance exercise may be one of the most important levels of exercise because it impacts your body in a number of ways.

Endurance Training

So how do you measure your endurance? How do you know if you’re in shape, what goals to set, or how to improve your endurance?

You need a starting point, a measurement.

One-Mile Endurance and Fitness Test

The simplest test is the one-mile test. This test requires you to run/walk a mile as fast as you can. The only tool you need is a stopwatch so you can see how fast you are able to cover the distance.

It’s strongly recommended that you warm up. Walk a mile first to get your muscles ready to go and your cardiovascular system warmed up.

Once you’re warm, it’s time to walk or run that mile as fast as you can. Record your results. There are charts you can use to determine your endurance and fitness level based on your time. For example, if you’re female and between the ages of 40 and 49, anything less than fourteen minutes is excellent. For a man of the same age, anything less than thirteen minutes is excellent.

If you do not achieve “Excellent” results, don’t worry. You can begin an endurance training program and start improving your endurance and overall fitness level.

The Three-Minute Step Test

Another test you can take at home is the three-minute step test. Find a step, about twelve inches tall. You can use your home steps if you don’t have a fitness step. You also need a metronome and a stopwatch. If not a smartphone application that counts beats per minute will suffice. You want to set your watch or metronome to 96 beats per minute. Each beat is a step up or a step down. Continue stepping on the beat for three full minutes.

As soon as the three minutes is up, take your pulse for a minute. You can do this by putting your fingers on the main artery in your neck. Count all the beats for a minute. Again, there are charts you can find online that will help you determine your score.

For a man aged 46-55, an excellent score is a heart rate between 56 and 82 beats per minute. A woman of the same age would have an excellent score if her heart rate were between 63 and 91.

If you’re concerned about your fitness level, you can also head to your doctor and request a fitness test. VO2max tests can be performed at your local sports performance center as well. Knowing your endurance levels can help you determine an appropriate fitness program so you can effectively boost your health.

Is Endurance Exercise Right for You?

You may have been told by a well-meaning doctor, trainer or friend that you it would be in your best interest to look into endurance exercise. Or you may have read an article that made you wonder…is endurance training right for me?

Well, it just may be the best thing you can do for your body. However, it’s not for everyone. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of endurance exercise, so you can make the best decision for your health and fitness goals.

Pros of Endurance Exercise

Endurance exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system. It promotes a healthy heart and lungs and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease. If you’re concerned about your cardiovascular health, endurance exercise may be for you.

Endurance exercise promotes an efficient metabolism. Endurance training means that your body is staying in the aerobic zone. It’s using oxygen to help supply energy and fuel to your muscles.

While there are weight-loss benefits to strengthening both your aerobic and anaerobic systems, endurance exercise trains your body to optimize your metabolism. If you’re exercising for an hour or two a day, you’re going to lose weight.

It’s also good for your mindset. Because endurance exercise is performed at a low to moderate intensity level, you’re able to exercise for longer periods of time. This time is often useful to clear your head, let go of the day’s concerns and generally mentally relax.

You have an abundance of options.

While many people think of running when they think of endurance exercise, you can bicycle, dance, row, cross-country ski and swim too. In other words, you’re not limited to running. And in many cases there are fitness machines you can purchase so you can exercise year round.

Cons of Endurance Exercise

It can take a lot of time out of your day. Endurance exercise by definition is a longer exercise program. You’re not going to put out a high intensity effort for twenty minutes and be done with your fitness routine. Instead, you’ll exercise for an hour or more depending on your goals and current fitness level. This type of program doesn’t fit into everyone’s schedule.

Endurance exercise also doesn’t take functional fitness or strength training into the whole body health equation. It may be wiser to incorporate endurance exercise into a complete training program. For example, you might do yoga or lift weights twice a week and jog ten miles at a low intensity three times a week.

Endurance exercise is a fantastic way to improve your health. Talk to your trainer or health professional to help you decide if it’s right for you and how to get started.

Enjoy, train hard and live fully.

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