The Benefits of Endurance Training
Endurance running demands an intense level of determination, mental toughness, and the ability to overcome exhaustion, aches, the competing demands of a busy life, and the occasional injury. Sprinting and endurance running may depend on many of the same muscle groups and the principles of endurance training and sprinting may overlap in many ways, but the requirements of each also vary widely. And since endurance running can take a toll on the body over the short term, marathon runners are often asked why they do it. Of all sports and forms of exercise to choose from, why focus on endurance training? What are the health and strength benefits of endurance running, both mental and physical? Here are a few great reasons to consider an endurance training program.
Endurance Training and Cardiovascular Health
Every muscle in the body is important, and total fitness requires attention to each of the major muscle groups for balance, spinal alignment and overall health and strength. But for trained athletes, part time fitness enthusiasts, and non-athletes alike, there is one muscle which is unarguably the most important in the body: the heart.
A strong, steady heart rate means the heart muscle is working efficiently and gaining maximum benefit from every beat. If the heart can circulate a large volume of blood to and from the lungs and then around the body with each beat, its overall lifetime energy expenditure will be reduced, and the wear and tear it undergoes on a daily basis will also be kept under control. A strong, slow heart provides countless benefits to general health and adds years to the life of its owner. Strong hearts mean less stress on the walls of the arteries, less stress on the kidneys which regulate blood volume, less stress on the liver which provides our cells with nutrients, and less stress on the lungs which provide all the cells in the body with vital oxygen. When the artery walls are flexible and relaxed and the heart is powerful and efficient, almost every organ in the body simply accomplishes more at a lower cost in terms of work, stress, and damage.
The demands of endurance training support heart strength the same way fitness training strengthens any other muscle group. When the heart is taxed and pushed to its limits, oxygen and nutrient delivery to the muscle increase, and the muscle fibers become stronger. This strength is maintained even when the period of endurance training is over. Even as they sleep, endurance athletes experience the benefits of a strong heart and an efficient circulatory system.
Endurance Training and Mental Health
The heart muscle is supported and nourished by a fine network of arteries that supply it with the nutrients and oxygen it needs to maintain a strong beat. When these arteries are wide, flexible and clear, the heart is stronger and healthier and the entire body benefits. The same principles apply to every section of the brain. When the arteries and capillaries that deliver nourishment to brain cells are hard, blocked, or damaged, the brain doesn’t function at its full capacity. Even though neuroscientists are still working to unravel the mysteries of how the brain is organized and which areas are responsible for different processes, the dependence of the brain on a strong circulatory system is clear. Endurance training contributes to brain health by keeping these channels open.
But endurance running also seems to support mental health in additional ways that relate to the release of endorphins and chemical signals that control overall outlook, sensations like pain, and processes like inflammation. For reasons that are still not fully understood, endurance training sessions appear to have a positive impact on complex mental health conditions including depression and mood swings.
Endurance Training and Weight Control
In order to process the calories we consume and burn them away as energy, the body makes use of several different metabolic processes, which vary depending on our circumstances and the body’s current state of activity. In some cases, the body draws energy from glycogen stored in the muscles. Sometimes the body draws from glycogen resources in the liver. And sometimes, after these sources have been depleted, the body gains energy by breaking into stored fat cells.
The metabolic process the body chooses often depends on the speed of the heart. A sudden rise in heart rate that lasts only a few seconds usually draws energy from glucose in the bloodstream. A rise that lasts for several minutes typically diverts energy from muscle glycogen. And an activity sustained for several minutes that keeps the heart at 40-60 percent of its maximum rate eventually begins to tap into stored body fat resources. All exercise helps burn calories, which can help athletes control weight gain. But the best exercises for weight loss are those that push the heart into this “fat burning zone” and keep it there as long as possible.
Endurance and Strength Training
Endurance training provides countless benefits by helping athletes maintain a strong heart, flexible arteries, and efficient nutrient delivery to every cell in the body. But in order to maximize these benefits and get the most out of an endurance training session, the muscles and bones need to be strong enough to carry the body around and keep it in sustained motion. So even the best endurance program in the world won’t live up to its full potential without a balanced element of strength training.
When endurance runners decide to launch a marathon training program or simply work serious endurance training into their overall fitness routine, they should dedicate at least three short sessions a week to strength training in the home or gym. Endurance runners should pay close attention to the upper body and core, since strength in these areas can keep runners in motion longer, and can also help them avoid the kinds of injuries that tend to sideline athletes and cause training setbacks.
The resistance training equipment provided by Kbands Training.com can help athletes achieve their endurance running goals better than simple weightlifting, since resistance bands challenge multiple muscle groups at the same time. Resistance training equipment is also lightweight, powerful and portable. For more information on how the Kbands, KB PowerBands and KB Duo can support an endurance training program, explore the website or reach out to the fitness experts at Kbands Training.com.
Endurance Training Equipment