You may have noticed the difference this past year had on your stamina. When you were no longer walking from your car to the office or walking around a grocery store, your body ‘forgot’ how to use the equipment it has to keep you moving.
Your activity monitor is a great tool for staying aware of how active or inactive you are throughout the day. The bells and buzzes are great reminders to get up and move. In our new world where you may be moving even less than you were before the pandemic, a step goal can be very useful.
Since most of our daily activities, like shopping, cleaning, yardwork, working are stop and go, our aerobic system does not get much practice for producing lasting energy.
Stamina is the ability to move for extended time without getting tired and needing to stop. It is more than your heart strength, its about your whole cardiovascular system’s ability to produce energy aerobically.
Short term activities where you move continuously for less than two minutes use the anaerobic energy system. This system is designed to get you started, like a match and kindling starting a campfire.
But for you to sustain that energy, your aerobic system needs enough equipment to use oxygen to turn glucose and fat into fuel for cells. That means your heart, lungs, blood vessels, blood cells and muscle cells all need to be reminded to keep the necessary equipment to keep that fire going once the short term system runs out.
Yes your heart needs to be a strong pump, your blood needs to be able to carry the oxygen, and your muscle cells need the equipment to use the oxygen.
When you don’t move for an extended period of time very often, this equipment starts to fade.
The good news is, you can get it back, and fairly quickly too. Here is how:
- Start stringing those steps together so your body rebuilds the equipment to do more than short bouts of movement. Even if it is brief five-minute bouts to start, that is enough to get your aerobic system working again.
- go at the pace that keeps your breathing at light to moderate to start. If you go to fast and get out of breath, you are now using the anaerobic system again. Moderate intensity breathing ensures you are telling your aerobic system to get stronger.
- Repeat often, especially if you can only do short bouts to start. Listen to your body to know when it is ready to increase minutes.
Keep in mind, your body can adapt to only about a 10% increase per week. That means if you are doing a 10 minute walk, increase by 1 minute the following week! Gradually build up to 30 minutes three times a week as your body is ready.
No need to push to high intensity or through pain because this actually slows your progress to greater and sustainable stamina. Working with your body means it will take less time to turn those steps into more lasting energy for everyday life and the fun things you are looking forward to doing again.
Keep Moving, Be Well