8 ways you can get into endurance exercises

Endurance activities are a fun and easy way to get more healthy. Here's how to find activities you like and build a routine you'll love.

8 ways you can get into endurance exercises

1. Find an activity you love

  • Endurance activities are those that challenge large groups of muscles for at least 10 consecutive minutes.
  • The most obvious examples are walking, biking and swimming.
  • Endurance activities also include lifestyle movements, like washing windows, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, gardening, mowing the lawn, raking and pruning.
  • A cart-less round of golf also counts.

2. Learn the benefits

  • Endurance activities provide protection against the effects of chronic diseases associated with aging. These include heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.
  • Endurance exercises strengthen not only the muscle groups being used, but also your heart, lungs and circulatory system.
  • That's why endurance exercise is also called aerobic exercise. The word aerobic basically means it involves oxygen, which is what your heart, lungs and circulatory system are all about.

3. Build up your endurance

  • Endurance exercise is also the most straightforward.
  • To build endurance, you just do your preferred activity at a high rate of intensity for as long as you're comfortable.
  • Come back to it in the next day or two, and you'll be able to do it a little longer. Keep increasing how long you can do it.

4. Get the right intensity

  • The right intensity is when you work hard enough to make yourself breathe harder than usual.
  • There are measurements you can take to objectively gauge your ongoing exertion, such as buying a heart rate monitor.
  • Instead of buying new equipment, just measure your own Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). This simply means your innate sense of how hard you're working.

5. Count your RPE

  • In determining your RPE, 10 is the highest level of intensity. It essentially means you can't catch your breath and are about to fall over from exertion.
  • Zero is the lowest level of intensity. It means you've probably been lying comfortably on your sofa for the past hour.
  • When you're engaged in endurance activities, aim for somewhere between five, which is moderate, and seven, which is strong.

6. Find a balance

  • Another way to know that you're working hard enough is that you'll be sweating and slightly out of breath, but still able to talk.
  • Increase the intensity, and you may find yourself only able to gasp out "yes" or "no."
  • Any higher, and you need to bring it down a level.

7. Get into a routine

  • Ideally, your exercise routine should be up to 30 minutes of consecutive exertion.
  • Start with 10 minutes at the beginning. That's the minimum length of time in which you can get the respiratory and cardiovascular benefits you seek.
  • Ten minutes doesn't sound like much, but if you've been inactive for several years — or even a few months — start slowly.
  • This is not the time to head out for a 30-minute hill climb. Instead, start with a 10-minute walk. Every day, add another five minutes and increase your speed until you're doing 30 minutes.
  • As you get into shape, you'll find your workout gets easier. As you get stronger, you can either choose to up the intensity or settle in at a healthy fitness plateau.

8. Diversify your workout

  • Start to diversify your endurance activities. If walking comes easily, then perhaps it's time to take up swimming, tennis or bicycling.
  • One great thing about endurance activities is that they tend to be done outdoors, making them much more natural and fun than being in a gym.

Endurance activities are a great way to take charge of your exercise routine. Pick an activity you like and work on how long you do it, and at what intensity. Once you've mastered that, you can incorporate something else. Pretty soon, you could be feeling better and enjoying your exercise routines.

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