For most athletes, muscular endurance, or the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to repeatedly exert resistance, is a daily necessity. But even if you're not training for a sport, muscular endurance — built up via activities like running, strength training, cycling, swimming and climbing — offers many health benefits.
Muscular Endurance Activities
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), muscular endurance describes your ability to do something repeatedly without getting tired. On the contrary, muscular-strength activities are typically performed only a few times with a lot of effort.
ACSM warns against progressing too much too quickly. Slowly add time to your endurance activities to help prevent injury and allow adequate recovery time. Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
1. Keeps Your Heart Healthy
There's a reason the American Heart Association recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week: It's essential for maintaining heart health. Great heart-healthy muscular endurance activities include jogging, cycling, swimming and brisk walking, though the bulk of the research has looked at walking and jogging.
For example, one long-term study published in a 2014 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reveals that runners have a 45 percent lower risk of death from heart disease than their nonrunning peers.
2. Aids in Weight Loss
While diet is the biggest factor in losing weight, physical activity comes in at a close second. According to Mayo Clinic, physical activity is the most variable factor influencing your total caloric expenditure. And research shows aerobic exercise alone is an effective approach to weight loss.
One study published in the journal Obesity in 2013 reveals men and women who walked or jogged five days per week, without making any dietary changes, lost up to 8.8 pounds by the end of 10 weeks.
3. Improves Mood and Sleep Quality
It turns out that endurance exercise not only makes you happier, but it also helps you sleep better. Researchers in a 2017 Nature and Science of Sleep study found that exercising at a moderate intensity for 150 minutes per week created a positive impact on subjects' mood and sleep quality.
4. Prevents Age-Related Decline
A 2017 review in NeuroImage examined the effects of aerobic exercise — namely, analyzing the brain scans of more than 700 adults, aged 24 to 76 years, before and after aerobic exercise programs or in control conditions, researchers discovered that exercise prompts the production of a chemical that may help prevent age-related decline in brain function.
5. Leads to a Longer Life
Using data collected from more than 80,000 U.K. residents, a study published in 2017 by the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that strength training reduced risk of death from any cause by 23 percent, regardless of whether that training involved bodyweight-only or weighted exercises. And those who also engaged in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity reduced their risk by 29 percent.
- Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk
- American Heart Association: Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids
- NeuroImage: Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Hippocampal Volume in Humans: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- American Journal of Epidemiology: Does Strength-Promoting Exercise Confer Unique Health Benefits? A Pooled Analysis of Data on 11 Population Cohorts With All-Cause, Cancer, and Cardiovascular Mortality Endpoints
- Obesity: Aerobic Exercise Alone Results in Clinically Significant Weight Loss for Men and Women: Midwest Exercise Trial-2
- Nature and Science of Sleep: The Effect of Physical Activity on Sleep Quality, Well-Being, and Affect in Academic Stress Periods
- Mayo Clinic: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories
- American College of Sports Medicine: Shareable Resource: Muscular Strength Versus Endurance Versus Power—What Is the Difference?