Muscular endurance is the potential of a muscle, or group of muscles to exert force repetitively & consistently over a period of time. Swimming, running and cycling long distances require endurance and thus triathletes are a great example of muscular and cardiovascular endurance where the same movement is repeated expecting that the muscle does not get injured and does not tire too much. To achieve injury-free results in these active pursuits, one requires intense endurance training.
Simply put, the longer you can perform any action without excess fatigue, the more muscular endurance you have.
On the contrary, any strength sport like Olympic weightlifting needs explosive power over a shorter period. This does not require endurance training for that specific goal though mixing endurance and strength training helps overall muscle building and strength for any goal.
Examples of endurance activities in sports – If you are a runner or a cyclist you need muscular endurance of the leg muscles.
Examples of endurance in daily life – Daily cleaning, mopping, car washing and carrying groceries require muscular endurance and even rocking the child to sleep. Funnily, even sitting for a long period during school hours or in a desk job without getting tired is a test of the muscular endurance of the back muscles.
Therefore, to function optimally in our daily lives and also for several athletic and physical activities, muscular endurance is vital. Training in increasing endurance will help reduce our risk of injury during such activities and also prevent chronic diseases which set in due to suboptimal physical output.
Children have naturally endowed endurance and therefore, they have the ability to play all day and recover from fatigue very quickly.
There are 3 main contributors to that-
- Kids use their aerobic metabolism more than the anaerobic
- The lactate which is built up due to exercise is washed out faster and they recover faster because of that. Their heart rate recovers even faster than some elite athletes. Thus, they feel less tired and can get back to playing again. In fact, it’s harder for adults to keep up with kids who can play all day and jump for hours.
- The muscles in kids are almost fatigue agnostic and this is natural for every kid, so if a kid says he is tired, there is probably a lack of nutrient deficiency, lack of sleep or some other underlying physiological or psychological factors
Understanding the types of muscle fibres related to muscular endurance
There are 2 types of muscle fibres – slow and fast. Slow twitch muscles sustain low force over a period of time. Fast twitch muscles can endure greater force, examples being weight lifting, and 100m & 200 m sprints. Thus, muscular endurance requires recruiting the slow twitch muscles for longer periods of time. Muscular endurance can be improved by lifting weights and cardio training. The more endurance you have, the harder you’ll be able to go for a longer distance. And the more strength you have, the more power and speed you’ll be able to generate to complete an action.
There are various programs for kids to improve their stamina and endurance. These exercises can be divided into aerobic and anaerobic activities.
Aerobic exercises involve activities like running, cycling, swimming, and walking. These activities increase the heart and respiratory rate to keep the body supplied with oxygen and eventually this will help in delaying fatigue in kids. The best way to start is with an aerobic workout. Make a note that the kids should be able to talk and workout and not lose breath.
Anaerobic exercises involve short bursts of intense activity, such as sprints, push-ups, or pull-ups. Examples of endurance exercises for kids include running laps on playgrounds in a time-bound way, doing jumping jacks on a timer, and playing tag. Circuit training is a type of routine where you move from one workstation to the next, setting up obstacles and giving a 20 – 30 sec rest between each workout like squats, jumping over obstacles, lunges and more.
HIIT – High-intensity interval training leads to better endurance. It is basically intense anaerobic short workouts alternating with periods of light activity or rest. Free weights and mixing up boxing are great additions to the HIIT cardio session.
Benefits of muscular endurance exercises
Increased stamina – With increased endurance, there is energy and body stamina for everyday activities.
Every other fitness skill gets enhanced – The basic foundation of stamina gets built over which other skills like motor skills, coordination speed and strength can be built upon
Improved bone health – By placing load and including resistance training for bone health, it bolsters bone density. With improvement in bone strength, the chances of porous and soft bones which are prone to injuries reduce significantly.
Immunity – With overall health improvement due to exercise, the immunity of the body increases and disease-fighting ability is taken care of.
Insulin metabolism – Our bodies burn and store a significant amount of glucose in our muscles. By exercising and increasing your muscle mass, you’ll burn off the excess blood sugar and gain extra glucose storage. This will assist your body in keeping blood glucose at a healthy level.
Improved BMR – When the muscle mass is increased due to the workouts, the metabolism increases. The metabolism throughout the day will be high long after the activity is over.
Better results in weight reduction plans – With endurance and cardio workouts, the results of weight loss programs and diet plans will be more effective.
Decrease risk of injury: With better health and fitness, the risk of injuries is lessened as the body works more efficiently and the credit must go to the endurance of muscles.
Enhances Cardiovascular Health – Endurance training also makes your heart more efficient and stronger. New capillaries are formed to deliver nutrients to increased demands and blood circulation improves too.
Better mental clarity – Because exercise increases blood circulation, it also delivers more oxygen and nutrition to your brain. This helps enhance your mental clarity and prevents those mood dips. This is also because exercise stimulates the release of stress-relieving endorphins and reduces stressors like cortisol and adrenaline levels. Improved focus and cognition are seen with regular endurance exercise training. Building confidence, increasing self-esteem and cognitive skills is an added benefit. Aerobic exercise acts in different ways that can help improve mood and behaviour in children and as well as adults. It’s like the brain directs its resources from those brain areas that worry to those areas that help to focus.
Improved Sleep – Regular exercise puts you to sleep faster, you will stay asleep throughout the night and the quality of sleep improves.
With so many benefits, let’s train those slow twitchers. Train them hard, though a few fast twitchers will always join in the workout party
Lastly, in addition to training, what people may forget is their genetic makeup.
Children are born with natural endurance and we must encourage that by letting them continue using this blessing and thus pursue an active and fit life. Getting outdoors has a deep impact on the emotional and physical well-being of a child and physically enduring activity is like therapy for anxiety and mood disorders.
The views expressed are that of the expert alone.
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