December 2, 2015

 When I hear the term endurance, I think of Duracell batteries. The iconic television commercial with the bunny rabbit that keeps going and going while being powered by Duracell batteries has to be one of the most profit-making advertisements of all time. When it comes to humans, what is the Duracell battery?  It is your mind that sets the threshold of pain and resistance? It is your nervous system that sends signals to your brain to keep up with a certain activity. I am not a doctor, but I know when I was able to perform longer it was because I was well rested, well fueled, in reasonably good shape and I was able to block out the mental roadblock to stop. What do the experts say?

Many say that endurance is the ability of person to exert itself for a long period of time as well as the ability to withstand, recover from, and have the immunity to trauma, wounds or fatigue. It is usually used in aerobic or anaerobic exercise. The physiological results and consequences of the adaption of muscle to endurance exercise are a slower utilization of muscle glycogen and blood glucose, a greater reliance on fat oxidation and less lactate production during exercise of given intensity.

When humans start training and performing resistance exercises, we increase the ability to flow more oxygen to muscle tissue. We also create more mitochondria in lean muscle tissue that helps the “energy to effort” conversion.  Last, we condition the lungs, cardiovascular and skeletal muscle systems to convert energy in a longer time span as opposed to bursts of effort like sprints or weightlifting.

Okay, we laymen are still wondering what we have to do to make all of the science and physiology do its wonder.  How do we increase endurance?  Not for just doing athletic endeavors but doing everyday tasks like raking leaves, moving furniture and climbing stairs. Nothing says “out of shape” more than be winded by climbing a flight of stairs or chasing down the mail man to give him a bill to deliver.

As I mentioned earlier, rest and eating well is the best fuel for the body. Those of us who work a lot of hours don’t always take this simple advice and soon find that crashing and burning also becomes a cycle. One can only sustain that kind of lifestyle for so long before the effects will soon be harder to harder to fend off. It’s funny how some of the simplest movements like walking can enhance endurance. You don’t need a gym or a coach to tell you how to do a jumping jack, jump rope, do a push up, unless you want somebody to hold you accountable. I believe the whole coffee phenomena is a result of frazzled people needing a stimulant to somehow give them energy.

It comes down to the gradual adaption method which is slowly and steadily increasing mileage and speed or weight as the best way to increase endurance. In addition, train smart, work on what’s weak, mix it up and keep it non-boring and you will find your happy place. Lastly remember, you can’t always hire somebody to rake your leaves, go out there with some grit and be a raking fool.