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Cardiorespiratory endurance: Best ways to improve it

The ability of the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to working muscles during continuous physical activity is known as cardiorespiratory endurance. It is also called cardiorespiratory fitness or aerobic fitness. Cardiorespiratory endurance is an essential indicator of physical health as it impacts our ability to perform better for an extended period of time. With industrialisation, physical work has mainly been replaced by machines, resulting in a sedentary lifestyle. As a result, inadequate physical activity has risen to be the fourth-highest risk factor for global mortality. Improved cardiorespiratory endurance provides multiple health benefits and helps to keep one’s health in check.

Your muscles require oxygen during a workout, and the heart, lungs, and arteries supply that oxygen to working muscles. When you assess a person’s cardiorespiratory endurance, you basically look at how well their body takes in and uses oxygen. 

People can improve their cardiorespiratory endurance through regular exercise. For example, endurance training, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can improve cardiorespiratory endurance. 

Measuring Cardiorespiratory Endurance

Several methods are used to assess cardiorespiratory endurance, including the Maximum Oxygen Uptake Test/VO2 Max Test, Submaximal Cardiorespiratory Tests, and Metabolic Equivalents (METs). The test’s results reveal your general physical fitness and can be used to help you choose the best-suited exercise plan. 

Maximum Oxygen Uptake Test/ VO2 Max Test 

This test happens at a laboratory, usually in a hospital or medical facility. Scientists use this method to assess cardiorespiratory endurance by analysing the air you exhale during progressive strenuous exercise. In other words, the test determines the amount of oxygen the body uses during intense exercise. 

According to research, examining your exhaled air can evaluate how efficiently your muscles use oxygen. The higher the VO2 test score, the greater the maximum oxygen intake. However, this test is not suitable for everyone as it requires working out at a high level of intensity. 

Submaximal Cardiorespiratory Tests

Submaximal cardiorespiratory tests are more prevalent in gyms and health clubs. With the help of a trained fitness coach, you can perform submaximal testing. Since it does not require strenuous exercise like VO2 tests, these tests are better for beginners, or those who are out of shape or may have health conditions. 

These tests include:

Treadmill Tests The 2.4 km run testOutdoor Fitness Walking TestBike TestsThe Cooper 1.5-mile walk-run test (for more sedentary people)

Metabolic Equivalents (METs) track how much energy you use when exercising compared to when you’re not.  Studies suggest that METs help determine cardiorespiratory fitness. One MET is neutral, meaning it has neither a positive nor negative impact on endurance. For a healthy person, speed-walking on flat surface results in around 3.5 METs, whereas running for 4.5 minutes results in 23 METs.

Aerobic activities such as walking, jogging, running, swimming, dancing and rope jumping, leisure or recreational sports activities such as playing basketball, soccer, badminton, and tennis. as well as performing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), can help increase cardiorespiratory endurance. 

Importance of Improving Cardiorespiratory Endurance

Cardiorespiratory endurance knowledge can benefit anyone, not just professional athletes. There are various advantages of increasing your cardiorespiratory endurance. 

Weight Loss

According to research, aerobic fitness training programs help people lose weight. Since it entails a lot of energy expenditure, aerobic exercise helps to burn fat. In addition, several studies find that higher-intensity aerobic activities can help people burn more calories and aid weight loss. Thus, people who want to lose weight should aim to improve their cardiorespiratory endurance. 

Supports Health Health 

Improved cardiorespiratory endurance has a positive link with heart health. Cardiorespiratory endurance allows the heart to pump more blood with each beat. According to research, this can lower the risk of cardiac disorders such as coronary heart disease. High blood pressure is one of the significant contributors to cardiovascular diseases. However, increased amounts of physical activity decrease blood pressure and thus people with good cardiorespiratory endurance do not usually suffer from hypertension. Studies suggest that the mortality rate is also less in physically fit individuals. 

Improves Multitasking Capabilities in Older People

A study has linked cardiorespiratory endurance and multitasking in older adults aged between 59 to 80. Cardiorespiratory fitness improves cognitive performance by allowing increasing activity in critical brain regions. The higher the cardiorespiratory endurance, the larger the activation of the brain in several areas. One such region is the supplementary motor cortex which is responsible for programming and coordinating complicated sequences of movements. 

Boosts Physical Performance

A person’s physical performance depends on the heart, lungs, and skeletal muscles. Therefore, those with stronger cardiorespiratory endurance can perform high-intensity activities for an extended period. Also, aerobic exercises/activities that increase cardiorespiratory endurance require optimal usage of skeletal muscle.

Improving Cardiorespiratory Endurance by Exercising

The key to building cardiorespiratory endurance is to exercise regularly. These movements create noticeable physiological changes in people, impacting cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, and fundamental energy systems. 

As per research, any aerobic workout involving whole-body movement which is done in a rhythm for an extended period can help with endurance. It results in peak oxygen uptake and a modest resting heart rate. Here are a few easy exercises to enhance cardiorespiratory endurance:

Walking and Jogging

Brisk walking and jogging help you increase your cardiovascular and respiratory endurance. Low-intensity rhythmic exercise performed for longer durations can lead to the necessary bodily modifications and improve endurance. 

Running

Running is a highly aerobic exercise; as a result, runners’ left ventricles are more prominent and thicker than those of sedentary individuals. As per research, their hearts are more efficient than those of inactive people which means it pumps more volume of blood with every beat than others.

Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks has numerous cardiovascular benefits such as weight loss, improved bone health, and reduced stress. This vigorous exercise helps burn fat from all parts of the body. It is a fun cardiovascular exercise you can do in a limited space. 

Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are excellent for developing cardiovascular endurance and core strength. In addition, it aids in fat burning and provides numerous health benefits.

Burpees

Burpees are a versatile exercise that increases both strength and endurance. In addition, it burns a lot of calories and improves cardiovascular fitness.

Other Methods to Help Improve Cardiorespiratory Endurance

In case your daily routine doesn’t allow you to go to the gym every day or you find exercising boring and burdensome, here are a few other ways you can strengthen your cardiorespiratory endurance.

Dancing

Dancing is one of the alternate modes of exercise, and you can use it as a way to stay fit. It is for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. According to research, undertaking structured dance of any genre is equally and occasionally more effective than other types of exercise. Furthermore, it increases muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness. It also increases stamina and balance. Dancers are also reportedly more flexible than their non-dancer counterparts. As a cardio workout, you can dance to your favourite tunes in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

Swimming

It is an excellent strategy for building cardiovascular endurance. Swimming is low-impact cardio, an efficient technique to raise your heart rate while protecting your joints. It is an amazing total body workout for people of all ages. Studies suggest that swimming reduces the stress in the joints, increases a person’s physical strength, and reduces body fat. It also treats blood lipids that cause cardiovascular disorders.

Bicycle Riding

Bicycle riding or biking as we call it is one of the most convenient strategies for cardiorespiratory exercise. The benefits of riding a bike to cardiorespiratory endurance are undeniable because it engages multiple muscles. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, cycling can increase aerobic fitness and improve endurance. Also, this is especially true if you cycle for transportation rather than recreation.

Cycling improves strength, balance, and coordination. In addition, cycling is an ideal exercise method for osteoarthritis because it places little stress on joints and is a low-impact exercise.

Studies also show that strong heart muscles, low resting pulse, and lowered blood fat levels are common in people who cycle regularly. In addition, a study showed cyclers had two-to-three times less pollution exposure, which also benefits the lungs.

Summary

Cardiorespiratory endurance is the efficiency with which your heart and lungs work to supply oxygen rich blood to working muscles. Initially, you should assess your cardiorespiratory endurance with the help of a Fitness professional. If you have been inactive for an extended period or if you have any health conditions, do consult a Doctor before starting off with an endurance exercise plan. Begin gradually with just a few minutes of easy or moderate activity, two or three times per week. Try to stick to your routine as much as possible and subsequently increase the length of your sessions. While performing the exercises/activities, you must keep breathing. Ensure you’re doing aerobic exercises that raise your heart rate and follow the safety tips when exercising.

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