Do you feel shortness of breath, extreme muscle fatigue, and throbbing and palpitations upon intense physical activity? All these signs and symptoms show that you are struggling with your cardiorespiratory endurance and you need to improve it. In scientific and physiological terms, cardiovascular endurance represents the circulatory and respiratory system’s ability to supply oxygen to skeletal muscles during intense and continued physical activity.
For athletes and sportspeople, cardiorespiratory endurance lies at the core of their performance. High cardiorespiratory endurance implies that they can sustain intense physical performance for extended periods without getting tired.
How you can improve cardiorespiratory endurance and how it is linked with lung health? We will shed light on these questions in this article.
The Link between Cardiorespiratory Endurance and Respiratory Strength
If we break down cardiorespiratory endurance at the physiological level, it is the measure of how the body of an individual takes in and utilizes oxygen. To understand the “oxygen utilization” part, let’s outline the processes that collectively define cardiovascular endurance.
- A person inhales and their lungs fill up with air/oxygen.
- Some of this oxygen passes into the bloodstream.
- The oxygen-rich blood from the lungs transmits to the heart. The heart pumps and circulates the oxygenated blood to every tissue and organ in the body.
- When lungs and heart perform optimally, the skeletal muscles get oxygen-rich blood continuously, which is essential for the prevention of muscle fatigue during intense physical activity.
If you notice, steps 1 and 2 sets the quality of cardiovascular endurance. A healthy heart can only pump oxygen-rich blood to skeletal muscles when the lungs manage to inhale an optimal level of oxygen.
In short, you need to increase lung endurance to improve cardiorespiratory endurance.
Ways to Improve Cardiorespiratory Endurance
Besides running, dancing, and swimming, there is a list of exercises and activities that improve your heart and lung health, which will eventually translate into better cardiovascular endurance. We are listing the routines that you can execute anywhere without needing expensive equipment and trainers’ assistance.
It is an indoor exercise where you have to pretend like a mountain climber.
- Assume the plank position with shoulders aligned over the wrists, straight legs, and head aligned with the spine (flat back).
- Move the right leg as if you are ascending on a mountain. It will result in bringing the right knee towards the chest.
- Move the right leg back to the starting position and repeat the same step with the left leg. This will make one rep of running plank.
- While moving the right and left legs back and forth during the reps, take a little jump to engage the core muscles.
Named after its developer Dr. Royal Burpee, this is another exercise you can do at home without needing any equipment.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
- Move to the squatting position by bending the knees and place both hands on the floor/mat.
- Extend your legs behind with a little jump. You will get into a push-up position.
- Flex your legs back into the squatting position, and in a similar vein, jump in the air to stand up with arms raised above the head.
- Get back in the squatting position again for the second rep.
You may have done and aced this exercise in school days. Jumping jacks or star jumps are one of the easiest and doable exercises to increase respiratory strength and lung endurance.
- Stand with closed in feet and arms straight as if you are about to salute.
- Jump and spread your legs and clap/touch your hands overhead upon landing.
- Jump and get back to the salute stance. Jump again to complete the second rep.
Breathing exercises also increase respiratory endurance that in turn improves cardiovascular endurance. Breathing exercise is particularly suitable for athletes who can’t engage in intense physical exercise for the time being due to any injury. Breathing exercises improve the strength of respiratory muscles that increase the lung capacity and volume of oxygen.
Apart from deep and pursed-lip breathing, you can use a breathing trainer device to increase lung endurance. For instance, you can use Orygen Dual Valve for this purpose. It consists of a valve, nozzle, and clamp and you use it for breathing at different levels of difficulty (pressure levels).
- Put the clamp on the nose
- Put the nozzle in the mouth and inhale and exhale through the mouth at the neural setting of the nozzle.
- Then increase the pressure through the dual valve to increase the resistance/difficulty level and breathe through the mouth.
- Increase the number of reps and frequency with time.
This breathing exercise will strengthen the aspiratory and expiratory muscles to increase overall lung endurance. The improved respiratory health will eventually translate into better cardiorespiratory endurance.
It is important to mention here that increased cardiorespiratory endurance is important even If you are not an athlete. A study suggests that people with high cardiorespiratory endurance are less likely to develop hypertension. With the help of the physical and breathing exercises we have discussed here, you can improve your cardiovascular endurance for your athletic performance and a better quality of life.