Components of Fitness: Stamina

by Joelle Dedalus

About Joelle Dedalus

Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.

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Stamina, also referred to as endurance, is a key component of physical fitness. Stamina can be a physical and a mental state, and increasing your stamina requires physical training and mental focus. The benefits of physical stamina include better fitness levels and lower risk of heart problems as you increase your cardiovascular endurance. Athletes with strong stamina are able to compete for longer distances and for longer amounts of time.

Strong Muscles, Strong Mind

Stamina allows your body to function at high levels despite the risk of pain, fatigue and stress. It's easier to maintain focus, so you make fewer mistakes in a tough competition or a challenging workout -- and perform better at academic and daily tasks as well. When you are physically fit, your heart and lungs are able to supply more blood and oxygen to your muscles during high-intensity and potentially depleting activities. Increased capacity to deliver oxygen results in delayed fatigue in an endurance activity such as a long, rigorous tennis match or a marathon. Building stamina means you can go stronger longer, whether it's on the court or in the corporate playing field.

Increased Fat Burn, Lower Blood Pressure

The benefits of physical stamina include higher energy levels, reducing the chance that you will experience fatigue throughout your day. When your physical stamina is increased, you are likely to have lower blood pressure and stress levels. Your cardiovascular endurance means that you will have a decreased resting heart rate and an increase in your metabolism. That translates to greater calorie burn and faster reduction of excess body fat. As your general fitness improves with your increased stamina, you are less likely to suffer from diabetes or heart disease. And women have an advantage in endurance exercise due to muscle glycogen sparing -- women oxidize fat first for fuel during endurance activities, delaying glycogen depletion and using less protein than men performing similar exercise. A 2008 study at McMaster University in Canada showed that estrogen levels were responsible for the greater fat oxidation.

Building Physical Stamina

Increasing your physical stamina requires you to challenge yourself in your everyday workout. Incorporate regular cardiovascular, or aerobic, activity into your weekly fitness plan. Walking, jogging, swimming and aerobic or step classes are all excellent forms of cardio that work your heart and lungs as well as various muscle groups. Warm up before beginning your cardio workout and cool down at the end with stretches and light cardio, such as walking after a run. Your entire workout should last at lease 20 minutes with your heart rate acting at 90 to 130 beats per minute. As you increase your fitness levels, continue to challenge yourself to reach new fitness goals, improving your overall endurance.

Mental Toughness

Stamina does not refer to physical functions alone. Your mental state can contribute to how long or hard you are able to perform an exercise as well. To increase your mental stamina, focus on your goals. Setting some goals that are reasonable and yet still challenging can increase your motivation. Prioritize your goals and continually self-evaluate to adjust them to fit your endurance levels. A doctor or physical trainer can aid you in this process of building mental stamina through goal-setting.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.