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. Extended periods can refer to several days of low-intensity exercise or minutes of high intensity exertion.
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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.
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. Start with 20 minutes per day and gradually increase to 45 minutes per day, exercising four to five days per week.
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.
Read more: Can Certain Foods Increase Stamina?
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.
Smoking tobacco causes more than 2.4 million preventable deaths per year in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. Tobacco directly decreases your stamina by limiting oxygen to your heart, muscles and tissues.
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.
If you have low stamina or notice a sudden drop in energy level 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