A critical component of all-around health, cardiorespiratory endurance refers to the body's ability to keep your heart, lungs and circulatory system going during extended periods of exercise. It's also known as your level of aerobic fitness, cardiovascular fitness or aerobic capacity.
Building this endurance is important for a healthy lifestyle. According to a 2012 article in the International Journal of General Medicine, regular exercise has been associated with a reduction in risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, as well as hypertension. Additionally, a study in the February 2012 issue of the European Heart Journal concluded that inactivity or following a sedentary lifestyle could be attributed to an increased chance of experiencing a cardiovascular event and even premature death.
How do you build your cardiorespiratory endurance? Get out and start exercising.
Read more: Can You Do Cardio Exercise Every Day?
The Perks of Running or Jogging
The first exercise most people think of when they hear the term, "cardiovascular exercise," likely is running or jogging. Besides being the most basic form of training to improve aerobic endurance, running provides many health benefits.
According to research published in the August 2014 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, merely running for 5 to 10 minutes per day at less than 6 miles per hour is associated with a significantly reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and all other causes.
Sedentary individuals or anyone who hasn't run for distance before should start slowly and build up gradually to the 30 to 40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise done three to four times every week that the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends. However, it's crucial that runners wear the appropriate shoes to minimize the risk of injury.
The Benefits of Biking
A study in the April 2017 issue of the British Medical Journal concluded that using a bike for your daily commute lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and death from any other causes.
While many people give up bike riding as they leave their teenage years, it's still an excellent way to enjoy being outdoors and develop cardiovascular endurance. Unlike running, riding a bicycle is an activity that is low-impact on ankles, knees and hips, making it an ideal exercise for older folks or individuals suffering from joint pain. Take weekend rides or make biking a part of your routine commute to have fun while increasing cardiorespiratory endurance.
Swimming is a fun recreational activity with significant benefits for cardiovascular endurance. Unlike biking and running, swimming is a full-body exercise that builds both upper- and lower-body strength and endurance.
According to an August 2013 research article published in PloS one, swimming is a low-impact sport that's easy on the joints and even promotes bone cell turnover that may benefit bone density later in life.
Although considered a safe activity when practiced in a pool, keep in mind that lake or ocean swimming presents challenges that should be left to experienced swimmers.
Stay Simple with Walking
The most natural activity you can engage in that has significant cardiorespiratory benefit is walking. 75 minutes of vigorous walking per week is enough to build cardiorespiratory endurance according to a 2011 study in the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport.
Walking is the most convenient way to build cardiorespiratory endurance because it requires no specialized equipment.It's easy to include vigorous walking in any daily routine. Try different strategies, such as parking farther away from work or shopping; getting off mass transportation one stop early or walking during breaks.
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- Physical activity levels, ownership of goods promoting sedentary behaviour and risk of myocardial infarction: results of the INTERHEART study;Held C1, Iqbal R, Lear SA, Rosengren A, Islam S, Mathew J, Yusuf S; (2012)
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- American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults; (2016)
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- Is Bone Tissue Really Affected by Swimming? A Systematic Review; Alejandro Gómez-Bruton, Alejandro Gónzalez-Agüero, Alba Gómez-Cabello, José A. Casajús, Germán Vicente-Rodríguez;(2017)
- How Much Walking Is Needed To Improve Cardiorespiratory Fitness? An Examination of the 2007 ACSM/AHA Physical Activity Recommendations; Stephen D. Anton, Ph.D., Glen E. Duncan, Ph.D., Marian C. Limacher, M.D., A. Daniel Martin PhD, Michael G. Perri PhD; (2011)
- New York City Bicycle Master Plan: The Benefits of Cycling
- ACSM's Certification Review; Khalid W. Bibi, Ph.D.