7 Workouts That Can Boost Your Endurance

Sports & Activity

Cardiovascular exercises like running, walking, cycling, and HIIT workouts can help improve endurance and stamina, boost heart health, and provide other benefits.

Last updated: May 20, 2022
6 min read
7 Exercises That Can Improve Your Cardiovascular Endurance

Cardiovascular endurance activities — like running, walking, cycling, and swimming — include any type of exercise that increases your heart rate for a prolonged period of time. And, during a cardio session, your respiration increases to take in more oxygen, so you’re likely to sweat as your body works to keep you cool.

When you build cardiovascular endurance, your heart and lungs get stronger, your circulation improves, your joints stay mobile, and you can build strength in the muscles used. As a result, you may decrease your risk of heart disease and lower your resting blood pressure, among other health benefits, per the Cleveland Clinic.

The best workouts to reap these benefits are activities you enjoy because cardio should be performed on a regular basis. And current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults perform at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week.

Cardiovascular Exercises for Better Health and Fitness

There isn’t one type of aerobic exercise that’s necessarily better than the rest. Choose several activities that you enjoy and mix them up during the week to keep yourself engaged and interested.

  1. 1.Walking

    Walking is accessible to most people, easy to do, usually budget-friendly, and has a low risk of injury. For those reasons, organizations like the National Institutes of Health suggest walking as a great way to increase physical activity.

    Aim to walk at a brisk pace to elevate your heart rate enough to gain the maximum benefits of cardiovascular exercise. If you’re just starting out, alternate segments of brisk walking with short segments of slower or moderate-paced walking to build your stamina.

    Get started: Be sure you’re equipped with good walking shoes to reduce your risk of injury and make your walking workouts more comfortable. Look for features like cushioning, arch support, and breathable uppers. Buy from a company that offers a generous return policy so you can return shoes that don’t fit well.

  2. 2.Running

    Running is a great way to build endurance and burn calories. In fact, when compared to walking, running burns substantially more calories. However, running is high-impact and more strenuous and thus carries a higher risk of injury.

    But there are also tons of health benefits. And as a result, runners have a 25 to 40% reduced risk of premature mortality and live approximately three years longer than non-runners, according to a 2017 study in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.

    Get started: As with walking, shoes can make or break your workout. Good running shoes not only protect your feet, but they can support your feet for a strong and stable gait that helps prevent pain or injury. Consider your foot shape, your running style, and the terrain where you plan to run to find the best shoe for you.

  3. 3.Cycling

    Riding your bike outdoors can inspire a sense of adventure and freedom. And it provides numerous health benefits, including improved heart health and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack, according to a 2011 review in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport. The researchers also found that cyclists are likely to have higher levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

    Cycling is a low-impact activity that may be preferred by those with certain lower body joint issues who prefer not to walk or run. Cycling can be done outside on the road or trail or inside on a stationary bike at home or the gym.

    Get started: If you’re new to cycling, take a few indoor classes to make sure it feels good on your body. When you decide to invest in a bike, talk to a specialist to get the right type of bike for your riding style. You may even want to consider an e-bike that offers the option of pedaling assistance so you can travel as far as you want without the worry of overdoing it.

  4. 4.Swimming

    If you have access to a pool, swimming might be the workout for you. It offers a workout for both your upper body and lower body to build full-body strength and endurance. Plus, it’s a low-impact activity so it’s easy on your joints.

    Swim experts at U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) also tout the wide-ranging benefits of the sport, including the fact that it can help reduce stress, improve mental toughness, and enhance relaxation through the repetitive nature of movement.

    Get started: If you’re a beginner, look for classes at your local community center or health club to refine your pool safety skills and stroke mechanics. There are four key swim strokes: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.

    But you don’t need to know all of them to get an effective swimming workout. If you’re familiar with these strokes and want to swim with a group, contact your local sports center with a pool to inquire about classes and recreational teams available.

  5. 5.Group Exercise

    If you enjoy aerobic exercise with a social component, try a group exercise class like aerobics, step, cardio circuits, Zumba, boxing, kickboxing. Check out other options at local community centers, health clubs, and fitness studios.

    Get started: When starting a new exercise program, test out a variety of classes to see which types and instructors fit your preferences. Connect with the instructor beforehand and let them know you’re new. Many times they can offer tips and provide support throughout the class to make sure that it’s a positive experience.

  6. 6.Bootcamp or HIIT

    If vigorous exercise appeals to you, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or a boot camp-style workout. They boost your heart rate and include whole-body military-style moves, like push-ups and jumping rope. These workouts are great for those in good shape but have little time for exercise.

    Get started: Don’t be afraid to be a first timer! During your first session, ask questions about how to use the equipment properly and how to perform modifications to keep the intensity level consistent with your level of fitness.

  7. 7.XC Skiing or Snowshoeing

    Those who live in snowy states (or those that travel to them) can enjoy the great outdoors on skis or snowshoes while getting the benefits of cardiovascular exercise.

    These snow sports are also a great way to burn calories. According to the American Council on Exercise, a 150-pound person cross-country skiing at a moderate pace for an hour can burn 544 calories.

    And when compared to alpine (downhill) skiing, you’d have to downhill ski for 2.5 hours to get the same calorie burn as one hour of cross-country skiing.

    Get started: Rent skis when you start out to make sure you enjoy the sport before you invest in your own equipment. You might also want to sign up for a lesson to learn how to balance on skis, use the poles properly, and make the most out of your experience.

7 Exercises That Can Improve Your Cardiovascular Endurance

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Originally published: December 27, 2021