Stamina is heralded as a mark of good physical fitness, but not everyone understands exactly what it is. Stamina is your body's ability to sustain extended periods of physical activity.
Unhealthy lifestyle choices decrease your endurance and resilience, making it more difficult to sustain intense activities. You can increase your stamina with a few changes to your physical fitness habits to make your body healthier. A sudden loss of stamina should be followed up with a visit to your doctor. This could be the sign of an underlying medical condition.
Stamina can be negatively impacted by lack of activity, poor diet, smoking or an underlying medical condition.
Lack of Exercise
If you spend most of your day sitting, lounging, watching TV or typing at a computer, you're at risk of decreased stamina from a sedentary lifestyle. Leading a sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis and many other health issues. In addition, lack of exercise leads to weaker muscles, which also decreases stamina.
Add regular physical activity to increase your stamina and overall health. Aerobic exercise, jogging, rollerblading, skipping rope, dancing, swimming, jumping jacks and other cardiovascular activities help rebuild stamina.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise to maintain a healthy weight. If you haven't exercised in the recent past, you will likely need to work up to these amounts.
Incorporate a Healthy Diet
Following a poor diet can decrease your stamina, by raising inflammation in your body and increasing levels of fat. Consuming candy, baked sweets, soda and other sugary treats causes blood sugar level fluctuations and energy crashes. Eating a large heavy meal makes your body focus on digestion so you feel sleepy, not peppy.
Eating more than your body needs can diminish your stamina, but so can shortchanging yourself on calories. It leaves your body without the necessary fuel to convert to energy.
Increase your stamina by eating five to six small meals each day and stick to fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, legumes and whole grains for high-quality, high-energy fuel, according to Mayo Clinic.
For best results, consult a dietitian to determine how many calories you need to maintain a healthy weight and activity level. In time, your nutritious diet will boost your stamina.
Read more: 3 Best Stamina-Increasing Exercises
Quit Smoking Habits
Tobacco directly decreases your stamina by limiting oxygen to your heart, muscles and tissues. According to Cleveland Clinic, people who smoke have approximately 70 percent higher death rate than nonsmokers for deaths related to coronary artery disease — blood vessels that directly supply your heart.
To counteract the decrease in stamina, stop smoking entirely. Benefits of giving up tobacco include a longer lifespan, lower blood pressure, and decreased risk of cancer, asthma, bronchitis, gum disease, heart attack, cardiovascular disease and several other medical conditions.
Sudden Drop in Cardio Fitness
If you have low stamina or notice a sudden drop in cardio fitness or endurance, consult your physician. Discuss your lifestyle, daily exercise, diet and any recent changes to your daily routine. Your healthcare provider can rule out any medical condition that could be contributing to your low stamina and suggest ways to increase your strength and staying power.
Read more: How to Increase Stamina and Endurance