When it comes to increasing physical performance, cardiorespiratory endurance is a term highly relevant to understand, as it affects your ability to perform better and longer. But what is it exactly and what can you do to improve it? In this post, we will give you an overview of cardiorespiratory endurance, how it is related to your physical performance and what you can do to boost it.
What is Cardiorespiratory Endurance?
In short, cardiorespiratory endurance measures how well the body performs during long periods of exercise. It is, therefore, an indicator of how fit and healthy you are. Increasing cardiorespiratory endurance means that you will increase your physical shape, and therefore be able to exercise for longer periods and at a higher intensity level, without getting tired. Your body can keep exercising for a long time without stopping.
More specifically, cardiorespiratory endurance is the level at which your heart, your lungs, and your muscles work together. When we exercise, your muscles need fuel, one of them being oxygen. And it is your heart, lungs and blood vessels that have to provide this to your muscles. So when a person’s cardiorespiratory endurance is measured it means that you examine how well their body takes in and utilizes oxygen. That will directly influence your physical performance.
The term can also be referred to as aerobic capacity, cardiovascular fitness, and aerobic fitness.
Whether you want to strengthen your physical performance, get in shape or lose weight, it is important to look at how you can increase your cardiorespiratory endurance. But let us first look into how it is tested and measured.
Measuring your Cardiorespiratory Endurance
The test of cardiorespiratory endurance is done by measuring maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) and metabolic equivalent (MET.) VO2 determines the maximum amount of oxygen that the body is capable of using during high-intensity activities. Both heart rate and oxygen consumption are measured in the test of VO2. Test candidates are measured while exercising, typically at a treadmill or stationary bicycle. The higher the number in the VO2 test, the higher the maximum oxygen uptake.
MET is the ratio between the energy expended during physical activity and the energy expended while resting. What you want to know, is how much energy a person is using while sitting at rest. That number is one MET and by multiplying, the number can tell us how much energy a person consumes during different levels of exercise. The tests can be done at a clinic, laboratory, or hospital.
If you are physically very fit or an athlete, you can also test yourself in a submaximal exercise test. This can give you the same indications. Submaximal exercise tests are for example:
- Astrand treadmill test
- 2.4 km run test
- Multistage bleep test
These tests will give you an indication of how your good your heart and lungs are at bringing oxygen to your muscles during exercise. The higher results, the longer you will be able to perform. It is linked to your respiratory strength and the stronger, the better the endurance.
The cardiorespiratory system and why it is important for your physical performance
Your muscles need oxygen and when we are active and are training, they need more. The process of making sure they will have enough oxygen includes your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. The word cardiorespiratory explains to us, that we are dealing with both the cardiovascular system and the respiratory system.
The cardiovascular system is the system that keeps your heart beating and pumps blood out into your body. The system is controlled by the heart and includes veins, capillaries and arteries. All of these together pump blood and oxygen around the body.
The respiratory system enables us to breathe. The system is controlled by your lungs but also includes your nose, mouth, and diaphragm. The system takes in air and hereafter transfers the oxygen into the blood which then pumps it into your muscles and organs.
By strengthening cardiorespiratory endurance your body will be able to take in and carry more oxygen. This will result in an increased number of red blood cells and hemoglobin. Your heart rate will also become stronger and be able to pump out larger volumes of blood and distribute the oxygen better.
But how is it related and important to your physical performance? The slower these two systems are, the less efficient they are. And the slower they are, the tougher it is for your body to pump the oxygen around. It will eventually impact your endurance and performance. You will need more energy to pump the oxygen around in your body, which means that you can perform at a shorter period and you will loose breath faster.
How can you boost cardiorespiratory endurance?
By exercising regularly, you can improve your cardiorespiratory endurance and continuously increase the difficulty of the aerobic or cardio activity that you are performing. You have to push yourself to reach a higher heart rate when you exercise.
4-6 times of exercise per week, at around 60 minutes at a time of medium intensity training is efficient. If you perform high-intensity training, 30-40 minutes is enough.
Each time you workout you should strive to go a little further and have continuous progression in your performance. Adding variation is also important to remember, as this pushes your body and makes sure that you train different muscle groups.
There are several different types of exercises you can do and perform to improve your cardiorespiratory endurance, and also different types of activities. Just keep in mind that the best cardiorespiratory workout is one that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat. We have listed some good ideas here:
- Run and jump in one spot
- Jumping jacks
- Side hops
- Hopping squats
- Mountain climbers
- Power walking
- Basketball and soccer
Other benefits of improving your Cardiorespiratory Endurance:
Improving cardiorespiratory endurance is good for your overall health. Not only does it enable you to physically perform for longer and at a higher level, but it also has a positive correlation with the health of your heart and a negative correlation with risk factors. This means decreasing your risk of heart diseases. Also, the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes can be minimized, since you strengthen the health of lungs and heart which altogether has a positive influence on your physical wellbeing.