Endurance or stamina is basically the ability to exert oneself physically for long periods of time. But, most of us don’t get enough opportunities to build endurance in our daily lives anymore. And, often, we don’t realize it until we realize we do not have enough endurance to walk around a flea market without our backs or knees “giving out”. Or, we try to walk up a small hill and get winded.
One reason we exercise is to improve our cardiovascular endurance—to strengthen our hearts and lungs. This aerobic exercise helps us prevent heart attacks (and many other diseases.) Another reason is to improve our muscular endurance—to strengthen our muscles so they can support our bones and organs, not to mention open jars and lift things.
Walking is a great exercise because it combines both types of exercise. And here are ways you can increase your walking endurance, which will in turn increase your overall stamina.
1—Walk every day. Start off with as little as 10 minutes and aim for at least 30 minutes a day. You can break it up into smaller walks if you have to, but try to get those 30 minutes in. It’s the least you deserve.
2—Add a Long Walk. Once you build up a base of endurance—the ability to walk for 30 minutes continuously, for four or more days a week, add 10 minutes to one of your walks. This will become your long walk, and try to work up to one hour of walking once a week, adding 10 minutes each month until you’re at 60 minutes of continuous walking.
3—Crank it up. Add walking intervals in the form of short bursts of speed, or by walking up hills. For how-to info, read Adding Intervals to your Walks. You can also add in stair-climbing occasionally or running around the yard with your dogs or children.
4—Add strength training. Just a few minutes two or three times a week can really improve your muscle endurance. Be careful when choosing a program and do not overdo it. There are lots of ways to do strength training, too, and you can start with no equipment, but you do need some instruction!
5—Take care of yourself after your walk. Stretching After Walking will help keep you injury-free. And, if you do get some muscle pain, try the tips in Treating sore, achy muscles to get you healed up and back to walking.
Buy Leslie Sansone’s Walking DVD’s for your home walking program so you can walk rain or shine: