Ways to Increase Your Stamina and Muscle Health
Easy Changes to Have More Energy Throughout the Day
When we think of stamina, we tend to think of long-distance runners and other intense athletic endeavors. Stamina, however, is also a measurement of your everyday physical capabilities. We need stamina to carry groceries, take the stairs, and rock our children to sleep; among a thousand other daily tasks.
Everyone can benefit from having more energy in their day, so we have compiled some ways to improve your stamina and muscle health. Increasing your stamina takes work, but it is achievable for even the busiest schedules and can make a huge difference in your life.
The Importance of Good Stamina and Muscle Health
Improving your stamina won’t just help you in the gym, it will also provide lasting health benefits. Stamina and muscular endurance are associated with a reduced risk for a number of serious health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.
Stamina can be thought of as the opposite of fatigue; having high stamina means you can keep your energy up for longer periods of time. Muscular endurance, or muscle health, is more about how well you can perform a repetitive, high-stress activity like running or lifting heavy objects.
How to Increase Your Stamina
As with most things that improve our bodies, building your stamina takes work. But don’t despair just yet! Simple exercises you can do at home and a mindful approach to your diet are all you need to start increasing your own stamina.
Exercises to Build Stamina
When it comes to building stamina, the most effective exercise may be plyometric or “jump” training. Plyometric exercises are exercises known for quickly taking your muscles to their limits with explosive movements. While these can rapidly improve your speed and strength, be sure to take safety precautions; start slow, and master the movements first before gradually increasing the intensity and duration.
Yoga and meditation are also lauded as fantastic ways to build stamina; as any regular at goat yoga will tell you, holding difficult poses takes a real cardiovascular effort! A mindful approach to life also helps practitioners experience less fatigue and lower stress levels. The general sense of well-being this promotes can do wonders for your body and your overall energy.
There are a few surprising ways you can passively elevate your exercise routine, for maximum benefits to your stamina. For example, listening to music during a workout has been found to increase cardiac efficiency. Letting your body work out on autopilot while you focus on the tunes helps you perform the same motions with less effort; all at a lowered heart rate.
Dietary Supplements to Improve Stamina
Just as a healthy diet goes hand-in-hand with an active lifestyle, dietary changes help make the most out of exercising for stamina. Caffeine–in its purer forms, such as coffee without much cream or sugar–can provide a helpful boost on days where your energy reserves are running low. Caffeine doesn’t just wake you up in the morning; it has also been shown to help sprinters cut their times while lowering their heart rate. Just don’t overdo it, as building a tolerance to caffeine makes it harder to see the effect on the days you really need it.
Ashwagandha is another dietary supplement that can give you some extra energy. While effective in numerous categories of well-being such as reducing stress and improving cognitive function, ashwagandha is also known to boost energy levels and cardiorespiratory endurance. Its name in Sanskrit means “smells like horse,” and it can help give you the stamina of one as well.
How to Increase Your Muscle Health
What works to improve stamina typically works to improve muscle health as well. Muscle health improves in conjunction with the stamina that gives you the energy and cardiovascular endurance to maintain use of your muscles over longer periods of time.
Exercises to Build Muscle Health
Any exercise that elevates your breathing and heart rate–especially aerobic activities–will support good muscle health by strengthening your heart and lungs. Running is a great option, with low-impact alternatives such as swimming, dancing, and walking at a brisk pace. Sports such as tennis, basketball, and hockey are options that can involve friends. If you’re looking for something you can do at home and in just a few minutes a day, check out HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. Sure to get your heart pumping, HIIT is also positively linked to improved cardiovascular fitness, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and more.
Be sure to choose an exercise that you enjoy, and therefore are more likely to stick with long term. Experts recommend working out for more than 150 minutes each week. With a little dedication, that is easier to maintain than you might think. Also, variety is the spice of life; don’t be afraid to try a new exercise, especially once your body is no longer challenged by your current routine.
Whatever routine you prefer, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, stay hydrated and try to practice healthy sleep habits every night; these are key to keeping your energy baseline high. Second, tweak your workouts to hit your target heart rate. For aerobic workouts, aim for 50-70% of your maximum heart rate in moderate-intensity activities and 70-85% in vigorous ones. You can find your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
Dietary Supplements to Improve Muscle Health
Once you’re exercising consistently, consider adding more magnesium into your diet. Magnesium converts glucose into energy, giving your body the stamina it needs to increase muscle health. You can take supplements, or incorporate more into your diet naturally with foods like leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, soybeans, avocado, bananas and dark chocolate.
You should also try to include foods rich in vitamin C, protein, and iron in your diet. These can help increase your energy levels and repair muscles and tissues after exercise. Citric fruits, veggies like spinach, tomatoes, and cauliflower, and herbs such as basil and thyme are all rich in vitamin C. Fish, poultry, dairy, and nuts are rich in protein, while dairy like yogurt, green leafy vegetables, and sardines all help increase the levels of iron and calcium in your body.
A few other foods worth special consideration include eggs (full of protein and nutrients to keep you sated and delay fatigue), soybeans (great for enhancing stamina and muscular endurance), quinoa (rich in vitamins and minerals for a boost of energy, especially at breakfast), and peanut butter (a great source for protein and omega-3 fatty acids to promote a healthy heart).
Building Up a Healthier YouWhile it’s always worthwhile to form healthy habits, be sure to listen to your body and what it needs. That means there’s no need to workout to the point of exhaustion or pain, and no need to overdose on caffeine for the small boosts in energy levels it can provide. With steady work and a few small changes, you’ll be well on your way to better stamina and muscle health in no time. Here’s to a healthier you!