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Endurance Training

Endurance exercises cause us to breathe hard. Maybe you know this type of exercise as cardio or aerobics. No matter what we call it, it’s cardiovascular exercise, meaning we’re using our cardiovascular and respiratory systems, which include the heart, blood vessels, and lungs.

Doing cardio increases heart and breathing rates from resting rates, improving endurance, cardiovascular and respiratory health, and physical fitness. Key components include the mode, intensity, and frequency of endurance exercise. Some examples include walking, running, and riding a bicycle.

How do you choose which endurance exercise is best for you? Look around.

What’s available? It might be a gym, park, swimming pool, or stairs. You can run on a treadmill or elliptical machine or outside in a park. You can climb on a stair-master in the gym or run up and down the stairs.

What are you able to do and what do you enjoy? Maybe you are unable to run and you would prefer to walk. Pick up the pace and walk a bit faster. Maybe you were a dancer as a child; go to a barre class and get your heart rate up.

Maybe you really don’t like cardio. Try getting to places early and walk around to kill time. Park far away from wherever you’re going or get off the subway a stop or two early to keep your heart rate up for a little while longer.

Maybe you get bored of doing the same exercises over and over. Mix it up! Ride a bike instead of running. Try different exercise classes…sometimes this will even save you money! Gyms and studios love to give discounts to first time students.

And…what do you want and/or need to get out of endurance exercise? Maybe you want to improve your daily energy levels. As we improve our endurance, our ability to perform daily activities increases because it is easier to breathe.

Each person’s endurance training is different, so it’s important to be conscious of our bodies as we increase amount of time or intensity of endurance exercises. If you haven’t been aerobically active in a while, take time getting back into aerobic activity. Like I’ve said about other forms of activity, take baby steps. Drink plenty of fluids. Dress in appropriate layers whether you’re running outside or inside. Exercise outdoors during the day or in well lit areas at night. Warm up. Exercise. Cool down. Stretch.
Where you begin depends on initial your fitness level, age, medication, and medical conditions. Start with 10-15 minutes of walking and gradually work up to 30 minutes per day. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Combine endurance training with flexibility, strength, and balance exercises to improve overall physical fitness. But first, consult with a doctor, physical therapist, or a well-educated personal trainer to make sure your body is up for the challenge.

Woman running. Female runner jogging, training for marathon. Fit girl fitness athlete model exercising outdoor.

Balance Training

Balance has to do with our ability to stay in one position for a given period of time without moving. It sounds silly because how often do any of us actually do this? Balance training is more important than just teaching us how to stand still with our eyes closed.

yoga on the beach, healthy lifestyle concept

However when we practice standing on one foot, eyes open or closed, we learn how to use gravity, environmental feedback, cues from our feet, and what we see to train the muscles in our body. Balance training also involves strengthening core muscles and muscles around joints. By learning where our bodies are in space and improving joint stability, we are better able to sense which muscles are needed to activate or deactivate to keep joints in proper alignment when moving. This improves coordination, athletic skill, and posture, which prevent falls and muscle strains, decreasing the likelihood of injuries.  

Wonder where to start? First, test your balance. Stand close enough to a wall that you can use it for support. Stare at a spot on a static object in front of you and slowly shift your weight onto one foot while lifting the other off of the ground. If you feel yourself falling, place your foot back on the ground or your hand on the wall. If this is challenging, continue to practice this on both sides.

If you feel comfortable doing this, try walking heel to toe in a straight line. You can slowly progress to walking lunges and using props to help improve your balance. Simply sitting on an Indo Board, Physioball, or BOSU balance trainer will strengthen your core muscles by challenging your balance. Once you develop greater balance, you can begin to stand on an Indo Board and BOSU trainer, then take that one step further and use these props for dynamic exercises, for example doing squats on a BOSU trainer.

Getting into exercise for the first time or after a long hiatus? This is the place to start. Balance training is the best way to get to know your body and become conscious of where it is in space.

If you are currently active, return your focus to balance training. Combine balance exercises with flexibility, endurance, and strength training to improve overall physical fitness. But first, consult with a doctor, physical therapist, or a well-educated personal trainer to make sure your body is up for the challenge.

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