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. Here are several reasons to start or keep up muscular endurance activities.
1. Keeps Your Heart Healthy
There’s a reason the American Heart Association (AHA) 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 in a 2014 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reveals runners have a 45 percent lower risk of death from heart disease than their non-running 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 a review in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the thermic effect of physical activity accounts for 15 to 30 percent of 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
Turns out, endurance exercise not only makes you happier, but it also helps you sleep better. Researchers in a 2012 Journal of Adolescent Health study found that just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity running every morning for three consecutive weeks was sufficient to create a positive impact on subjects’ mood and sleep quality.
4. Prevents Age-Related Decline in Brain Function
A 2017 review in NeuroImage examined the effects of aerobic exercise—namely, running, walking and cycling—on brain health and function. By 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 over 80,000 U.K. residents, researchers from the University of Sydney concluded in a study published in 2017 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.
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