Stamina is all about staying power — the ability to maintain steady application during a challenging task that may take hours, days or weeks to complete. Stamina keeps you on your feet as you train for a marathon or another endurance event, and it also keeps you sitting upright and alert at your desk as you strive to complete that big project.
If you've got, say, a three-day weekend to prepare physically and mentally for your next major challenge, there's ample time to begin building endurance. There are a few key tricks for achieving rapid self-revitalization and improving your fitness level.
Release Your Muscle Tension
When you push too hard for days without properly unwinding, mental tension turns into tight muscles that block energy flow. The best solution is to stretch. An even "better best" solution is to engage in a mind-body practice like yoga, or even tai chi, which involves breath work.
For a rapid-deployment stretching regimen, hit a beginner yoga class. Yoga reduces stress and in turn lowers levels of the stress hormone known as cortisol. That by itself is a major stamina booster. And, of course, yoga is also highly regarded for its ability to improve your fitness level.
Use Sleep for Building Endurance
Somewhere along the line, getting enough sleep began to be regarded as a sinful luxury. In reality, it is an essential ingredient to becoming "healthy, wealthy and wise," as Benjamin Franklin counseled. According to the Gallup Organization, Americans get an average of 6.8 hours of sleep a night, which is about an hour less than our forebears of 1942. And it may not be enough for most people.
The National Heart, Lung and Kidney Association recommends that people 18 or older get 7 or 8 hours of sleep nightly. Adequate sleep promotes healthy brain function, regulates hormones and facilitates muscle fiber recovery after rigorous training by supporting protein synthesis.
Jump-Start Your Metabolism
The body needs extra fuel directly before it embarks on strenuous, ongoing challenges. Complex carbohydrates, such as those found in legumes and grains; healthy fats, like those found in avocados and nuts; and lean protein from animal or vegetable sources, all propel you through a demanding competitive event and give you the stamina you need to excel.
While eating well may not chase away "the blahs" overnight, spending three days making sure you get your necessary share of vitamins, micronutrients and minerals by consuming lots of fruits and vegetables could really wake up your metabolism. (It also helps fuel your long-term quest to improve your fitness level.) Avoid sugar, fried foods and too much caffeine, and you'll quickly find you've got an extra spring in your step.
Start a Cleanse
In the "olden days," people considered regular bowel movements to be a necessary ingredient for stamina and vitality. When your digestion system is backed up, your whole body seems to slow down, making you feel sluggish. Disburden your colon of accumulated waste and you'll soon be walking on sunshine.
This regularity goal is best accomplished by eating plenty of raw fruits and vegetables. Most of the time, it's best to rely on high-fiber foods for regularity. But during your three-day stamina jump-start, taking a laxative or other "quick release" tool is fine, unless a health issue is a concern. Many people swear by colonics, but you can get much the same effect by doing a sea salt cleanse at home for free.
- Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology: Chronic constipation: Current treatment options
- Indian Journal of Psychiatry: Cortisol and Antidepressant Effects of Yoga
- Sports Medicine: The Use of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs for Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage
- Role of Tai Chi in Stress Reduction
- Sleep in Elite Athletes and Nutritional Interventions to Enhance Sleep
- The National Heart, Lung and Kidney Association: Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency
- National Women's Health Resource Center: Eating for Endurance
- Gallup: In U.S., 40% Get Less Than Recommended Amount of Sleep