How to Increase Stamina

How to Increase Stamina

Stamina, also known as endurance, is your ability to perform a sustained physical activity; the more stamina you have, the longer you will be able to continue. While most sports require an element of stamina, so too do many of the activities of daily living. Working in your garden, doing chores around the house and playing with your kids are all examples of activities that are easier if you have a good level of stamina. There are several ways in which you can increase your stamina.

Aerobic Exercise
Walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and rowing are all different types of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise directly benefits your heart, lungs and circulatory system and increases your ability to take in, transport and utilize oxygen. This increases the amount of oxygenated blood that can be delivered to your working muscles. Sustained physical activity requires a sustained supply of oxygen. To improve your cardiovascular fitness, which in turn will improve your aerobic stamina and cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends performing 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. Aerobic exercise should leave you slightly out of breath but still able to hold a conversation.

Muscular Endurance
Muscular endurance is the ability of your muscles to generate low amounts of force for an extended period of time, such as when raking leaves, shoveling snow, walking up a steep hill, doing pushups or body-weight squats or performing any other repetitive physical task. The best way to develop muscular endurance is to perform strength-training exercises with light to moderate weights for sets of 15 to 20 repetitions. This type of training increases the number and size of thread-like blood vessels called capillaries that deliver oxygen to and remove fatiguing waste products -- such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid -- from your working muscles. In addition, energy-producing cells called mitochondria increase in both number and size. You can use free weights, resistance machines or body-weight exercises as preferred. Work all major muscle groups equally two or three times per week.

Daily Activities to Develop Stamina
In addition to structured aerobic exercise and strength training, there are several other things you can do on a daily basis to increase your stamina. Walk instead of using your car or riding the bus, take the stairs rather than the elevator, carry your groceries in a basket instead of using a trolley, stand up instead of sitting down when you use the phone, park a short distance away from your destination and walk the rest of the way and purposely seek out any additional opportunities for physical activity. All of these small things can add up to significant improvements in your stamina.

Considerations
To reduce your risk of injury, always warm up before working out. Some light cardio combined with dynamic stretches, such as forward leg swings and side-to-side bends, will ensure that your body is properly prepared to exercise. On completion of your workout, perform more light cardio and then gently stretch each of your major muscles. If you are new to exercise or have been unwell or sedentary lately, consult your doctor before starting a new workout program. Increase workout intensity and duration gradually over several weeks to avoid doing too much too soon, which can cause muscle soreness and could lead to injury.