Endurance Exercise: Benefits

Some variety in your workouts can help keep it interesting and enjoyable. Adding endurance exercise to your routine can help you with that. When we speak of endurance, we pertain to your ability to withstand fatigue, or pain (very good for your mindset). It also points to your ability to stay active over time. When you participate in endurance training, you are well on your way to improving your cardiovascular, respiratory, and muscular endurance during any aerobic or anaerobic exercise. Additionally, if you exercise regularly, your endurance improves over time, and this means that an 80 years old can be as fit as the 20 years old, or even fitter.

Walking briskly, running, jogging, swimming, biking, climbing stairs at work, and playing sports such as tennis and basketball are some examples of endurance exercises.

While endurance training is associated with improving performance in sports, it is even more important that it can boost your overall health.

Here some of the ways that endurance training can boost your health:

It is a natural anti-ageing tool.

People are obsessed with youth as it is associated with health. In the last two decades, the focus of the medical profession has shifted towards treating the cause of the health problem, rather than just the symptoms. This approach is the best anti-ageing method that allows human beings to stay young and live longer. As a result, multiple studies focused on our lifestyle including nutrition, stress and exercise. One example of such study has shown that endurance exercise can be a natural anti-ageing agent. In 2012, a group of scientists looked at the effect of exercise on our genetic material. The study involved a group of younger men (22 – 27 years of age) and a second group of older men (66 – 77 years of age). Half of the younger adults and half of the older adults were endurance athletes, while the rest were exercising at a medium level of activity (moderately). The study found that all the endurance athletes, even the older ones, had longer telomeres than those who only exercised at a medium level of activity.

Now you may ask what telomeres are. Telomeres are the end caps at the end of each strand of the DNA that protect your chromosomes (your genetic material!). They tend to get shorter as you age, and this shortening is linked to ageing, increased risk of various diseases, such as cancers and heart disease and earlier death. The above mentioned study is only one of many which shows that endurance training can have a protective effect on the telomere length, and therefore it has a protective effect on our DNA. Consequently, it delays the ageing process, protects you from various diseases, and prolongs your life.

It promotes healthy weight loss.

Endurance training is an excellent way to lose weight, simply because it allows you to burn more fat and more calories. A recent study found that high-dose endurance training boosts peak fat oxidation by increasing transporters that deliver fatty acid directly into your muscle. Moreover, one of the studies published in 2013, in the European Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that endurance exercise can lead to lower appetite perception in the hours after exercise. By feeling less hungry, the overall calories consumption in 24hours was also decreased, supporting in a natural way a weight control.

It boosts heart health.

A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine examined the cardiovascular benefits of endurance training. It was participated by 34 men that included life-long sedentary seniors, endurance  athletes who started training before 30 years of age, and endurance athletes who began training after 40 years of age. It was then found that atrial and left ventricle dimensions, which suggest a healthier heart, were greater in both trained groups compared to the sedentary group. The trained group also had higher maximal oxygen uptake than the sedentary group. Maximal oxygen uptake or VO2 max. VO2 or oxygen consumption is a measure of the volume of oxygen that your body uses to convert the food your consume into energy molecules that your body utilises at a cellular level. And, a higher VO2 max is an indicator of cardio-respiratory health, fitness and youth.

It promotes mental health.

And because endurance training is good for the cardio-vascular health, it is also great in supporting healthy arteries as well as in circulating nutrients and oxygen. The arteries being wider and clearer translates to a stronger heart, thus benefiting all your organs including your brain. Blocked or damaged arteries and capillaries mean insufficient blood (oxygen and nutrients) supply and this translates into lower brain function capacity. With the help of endurance training, brain health is not only maintained but it actually can improve. Endurance exercise can also boost your emotional and mental toughness, which is important in managing any form of stress. Pushing past the discomfort of endurance, which can mean running an extra mile or just one more swim lap, can make you realise that you are capable of doing more than you thought you could. This will not only boost your self-confidence but it will also help you to break through your limiting beliefs, which is essential in maintaining a healthy disposition in life.

And of course endurance exercise also increases the release of endorphins, the happiness and pain-controlling chemicals.

Now that you have learned the benefits of endurance exercise, what you are waiting for? Take the stairs instead of the elevator at the office or put on your swimming gear, and gradually exercise your way to better health and better quality of life.

References

  • Østhus, I. B., Sgura, A., Berardinelli, F., Alsnes, I. V., Brønstad, E., Rehn, T., . . . Nauman, J. (2012, December 26). Telomere Length and Long-Term Endurance Exercise: Does Exercise Training Affect Biological Age? A Pilot Study. Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0052769
  • Rosenkilde, M., Reichkendler, M. H., Auerbach, P., Bonne, T. C., Sjödin, A., Ploug, T., & Stallknecht, B. M. (2013, December 18). Changes in peak fat oxidation in response to different doses of endurance training. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sms.12151/abstract
  • Deighton, K., Barry, R., Connon, C. E., & Stensel, D. J. (2013). Appetite, gut hormone and energy intake responses to low volume sprint interval and traditional endurance exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 113(5), 1147-1156.  doi: 10.1007/s00421-012-2535-1. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23111564
  • Matelot, D., Schnell, F., Kervio, G., Ridard, C., Boullay, N. T., Wilson, M., & Carre, F. (2016). Cardiovascular Benefits of Endurance Training in Seniors: 40 is not too Late to Start [Abstract]. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 37(08), 625-632. doi:10.1055/s-0035-1565237. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27116349

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