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What is stamina and why do we need it over 50?

The stamina aspect of fitness

There are three aspects of fitness which are commonly referred to as the three Ss.

  • Strength
  • Stamina – also known as endurance
  • Suppleness – also known as flexibility

There’s also ‘serenity’

If you’ve seen other articles from my blog, you may know that I believe in another aspect of fitness – serenity.

This is all about how exercise can make us feel – physically, mentally and emotionally.

In my opinion, serenity should be the fourth aspect of fitness because it’s just as important as the three Ss.

Throughout this year I’m focussing on the classic three Ss individually with an article on each one.

Here’s the one about strength from earlier this year.

This article is about stamina.

What it is, why do we need it over 50 and how do we improve it?

What is stamina?

Also known as endurance, stamina is the ability to sustain physical activity – everything from standing upright or maintaining posture to daily living and leisure or sporting activities.

We need some level of stamina to do all forms of physical activity.

And it’s this form of exercise that is most associated with the health benefits.

Exercise for stamina – endurance training

The duration and intensity of your endurance exercise depends on the outcomes you want.

Training for general health and sustaining your daily living activities or regular golf game is quite different to doing long runs, bike rides or swims.

While endurance training can take a wide range of forms, for most of us it involves continuous activity at a sustainable pace for an extended period (> 30 minutes).

The key is to get the heart pumping faster and feel a bit puffed and sweaty.

Endurance training examples

Brisk walking, cycling, lap swimming and running are all common examples of endurance training.

These are mostly done outdoors and have the added benefit of being in nature and therefore adding to our serenity 😊

Awesome indoor options include a long session on a piece of cardio equipment like a treadmill, cross trainer, stationary bike or rower.

These are readily accessible at a local gym and these machines are available for home use to hire or buy.

Group fitness activities often have an endurance focus and there are lots of options available for giving this a try.

Endurance training can be achieved in shorter periods of time if done at higher intensity.

Improvement in stamina/endurance fitness is indicated by a decrease in resting heart rate (slow pulse).

The normal range for resting heart rate is 60 – 100 beats per minutes.

If you have high level endurance fitness, your resting heart rate can be less than 50 beats per minute.

Muscular endurance

Thus far, I’ve mainly been describing cardiovascular endurance fitness, but this type of training also increases stamina in the muscles we utilise to do these activities.

And muscular endurance is equally important.

Muscles need stamina to maintain posture and do our day-to-day activities, as well as the stuff we like to do for fun and adventure.

It’s important to do strength training to maintain and improve muscular endurance.

We can’t get by on endurance training alone.

Health benefits of stamina for over 50s

It is vital to build and maintain endurance fitness as we move into our 50s and beyond.

A key reason is our increasing risk for developing chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes with age.

These are critical health benefits of endurance training for everybody, but extra impetus to stick with it as we get older.

Partaking in endurance exercise is also beneficial to mental health – super important for us over 50s with the added stressors of growing and changing responsibilities.

Doing your endurance exercise with a friend or in a group also contributes to a sense of belonging and enhanced wellbeing.

Additional benefits

Apart from the awesome gains to physical and mental health, here are some other benefits of endurance training for over 50s.

  • Better quality sleep
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improving bone density
  • Enhancing coordination and balance

Getting started

My top tip for starting to develop your stamina/endurance, or any form of fitness, is to start small and build gradually.

The thing about any exercise program, no matter how low key we start out, is to make it a regular habit.

I recommend doing some type of stamina-based exercise three times per week.

Schedule the time in your calendar to make the commitment and build the habit with your fitness.

A good starting point is simply going for a walk outside.

Start with 10 minutes and increase the pace and duration gradually. There is no rush.

As your stamina grows you will find that you can naturally go for longer at a quicker pace and you might like to try other endurance activities described above.

Experiment to find something that brings you joy – this is key to keeping it up.

Giving running a try

I love running and advocate for it as an energising and efficient way to do endurance exercise.

The biggest trap for people getting started with running is doing too much too soon, hurting themselves, and possibly developing a hatred for running in the process.

I encourage anyone to give running a try but do it using ‘None To Run’ – a brilliantly structured program which I highly recommend.

Everything you need to get started with None To Run is available for free on their website.

Here’s the link 😊

How I help people develop stamina

You can trawl the internet for any information you need on endurance training these days, but there is no personalised guidance and it can be impenetrable and confusing.

Here are a couple of ways that I help people build the stamina they need for the activities they love.

Are you starting from scratch?

If you’re not doing any exercise or need a way to ease into it, try my FREE daily warm up video series.

Learn more and get started here https://bit.ly/NiceAndEasyNewHabit

Other FREE resources at fiftyfitness.com.au

Did you know that I have a bunch of FREE resources on my website?

I’ve developed them to help over 50s get started or return to exercise.

You’ll find a workbook with 10 things to consider when you’re considering exercise.

There’s a home workout that requires no equipment.

And TWO video series. One to help you develop a daily warm up routine. The other provides tips on how to care for your pelvic floor while you workout.

So much goodness available for FREE!

Click the link to check them out.

EVEolution™

To learn more about how you can empower yourself to exercise safely through all stages of your female life, check out the EVEolution™ page on my website.

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at kate@fiftyfitness.com.au or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

This blog was written by

Kate Rowen's avatar

Kate Rowen

A photo of Kate Rowen

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I wish to acknowledge and pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the land where I live, work and exercise, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation.