Aerobic endurance is part of your everyday life even if you are not aware of it. Have you ever found yourself struggling to catch your breath after exercise? Your endurance or stamina is your body's way of signaling its ability to cope with activity. It is one indication of how healthy you are.
Definition of Aerobic Endurance
Aerobic endurance defines your body's ability to supply necessary oxygen and energy during physical activity. As you exercise, your body's need for oxygen increases. Oxygen fuels chemical reactions in your body to produce heat, carbon dioxide, and energy. A balance, therefore, exists between the demands of activity and the ability of your body to supply oxygen.
The maximum rate of oxygen consumption plays a key role in aerobic endurance. This rate varies with age and gender. Generally, oxygen consumption is highest when you are in your 20s. This explains why it is easier to engage in aerobic activities when you are younger.
Other Factors Influencing Endurance
Physical characteristics can determine your aerobic endurance levels. One source of oxygen that the body relies on during physical activity is from muscle fibers. Myoglobin is the oxygen-storing protein found in muscles and gives muscle fibers their red color. The muscle type determines the amount of myoglobin present in muscles.
Slow-twitch muscles are resistant to fatigue because of the large amounts of myoglobin present within the fibers. Muscles that are in constant use such as those in your back and neck contain a high proportion of these muscles.
Fast-twitch A muscles are similar to slow twitch, but can fatigue more easily. Like slow-twitch muscles, they contain large amounts of myoglobin to provide oxygen necessary for aerobic endurance. Your legs depend upon fast-twitch A muscles for a quick dash to catch the bus or running to get out of the rain.
Fast-twitch B muscles differ from the previous two types in that they contain little myoglobin. Rather than oxygen, these muscles use glycogen or sugar to fuel their activity. Fast-twitch B muscle fatigue easily. They are found in arm muscles, which can produce short bursts of intense activity.
Benefits of Physical Activity
Exercise and training can influence how your muscles develop and affect their oxygen consumption rate. Increasing your aerobic endurance provides many benefits both while exercising or resting because it trains your body to be more efficient at rest. The heart pumps more efficiently, moving more blood with fewer beats.
Your blood chemistry improves with physical fitness and high aerobic endurance. Your overall cholesterol rate improves as your body produces more HDL, the good cholesterol, while reducing triglyceride levels. Exercise makes your bones stronger and can help prevent osteoporosis.
Increasing Endurance Levels
Increasing aerobic endurance begins with cardio workouts. Cardio workouts allow you to increase oxygen consumption rate by improving your heart rate. As your heart becomes stronger, it becomes more efficient at delivering oxygen to muscular tissue. With continued training, endurance levels increase.
Target Heart Rate
The duration of your exercise sessions will depend upon the type of activity. Generally, the slower the pace, the longer the session should be for maximum benefit. Heart rate is another factor to consider. Determine your body's maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. As you can see, maximum heart rate lowers with age. Bear in mind that this figure is an approximation. For greater accuracy, use a heart rate monitor.
Strive to reach 70 percent of this number as you exercise. Take your pulse during physical activity by placing two fingers on the side of your neck. Feel for the rhythmic pulse. Count the number of beats in 10 seconds and multiple that number by six.
Plan to work out three to five times per week. Choose an activity that you enjoy to ensure you will keep up with your training. Increasing your endurance levels depends upon regular activity so that your body may adapt. Over time, exercising will become easier. Let your weight loss and good physical shape motivate you.As we age, endurance levels drop as our overall muscle mass decreases. Physical activity increases your heart's efficiency and allows you to continue to enjoy the benefits of aerobic exercise. Understanding your body can help you live a longer, more productive life. Adding physical activity to your routine is as simple as taking a walk.