How do I build up endurance?

There are many ways to improve endurance including adding intensity or duration to your workouts. But generally speaking, in order to build up your cardiovascular endurance, you will need to perform cardio activity at an intensity level of 65 - 75% of your Heart Rate Max (maximum beats per minute based on your age and activity levels) for prolonged periods of time. Depending on your current level of conditioning, this intensity level might be too advanced for you to begin building endurance. Should this be the case, begin your training at a lower intensity level which you feel challenged but comfortable with. As your conditioning levels improve, rather than increasing the time, continue to increase your intensity levels until they reach the recommended 65 - 75%. Once you have been able to sustain this endurance level, you can then begin to progressively increase your time for each bout of cardio activity. To continue progressing, you can also begin to incorporate interval training into your cardio routine. This will help your endurance because it will force your cardiovascular system to recover under more challenging conditions. To accomplish this, begin with higher intensity levels of 80 - 85% of your heart rate max (HRmax) with a recovery of 60 - 75% HRmax.

Wendy Batts
Gradually increasing your activity daily, weekly and monthly can help you to increase your endurance.  Start by doing activities that you enjoy for at least 10 minutes a day and then increase the time and amount of effort you put into your exercise until you can reach 30-45 minutes or more. Some activities you can begin with are things such as going for a fast paced walk, climbing stairs or playing with your children. As you become more comfortable with increasing your heart rate, you can move towards more challenging types of cardio exercises such as running, hiking, swimming and biking. Challenge yourself every other time you perform your exercise so that you are getting the cardiovascular and respiratory system benefits but be careful not to push yourself so hard that you cannot talk!  Use what is called the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale (RPE) which runs from 1 (really easy) to 10 (really hard).  On a scale from 1-10, shoot for at least a 3 when you are starting out and then each week increase that number by 1 until you feel that you have reached your goal.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.