Endurance refers to your body’s physical capability to exert itself for long periods of time. Individuals with good endurance levels can sustain exercise for an extended period.
Endurance has two components:
1. Cardiovascular endurance: The level at which your heart and lungs work together to deliver oxygen to the body while exercising
2. Muscular endurance: Ability of your muscles to perform contraction against a resistive force for extended periods
Importance of Endurance Training
Improves Bone Density
Exercise, in general, is known to improve bone density and overall bone health. According to a study, there was an increase in the lumbar bone density in people who underwent weight training, compared to the control group.
Enhanced Immune System
Endurance training helps increase the white blood cells, which are the quarterback of the immune system.
Endurance and resistance training help build muscle mass. As your muscle mass builds up, your body burns more calories.
Better Mental Health
Endurance training seems to have an effect on mental health by regulating the release of endorphins. It is also associated with chemical signals that are involved in pain sensations and inflammation. Endurance training may positively impact depression and mood swings - the reasons behind it have not been clearly identified.
Impacts Weight Control
Glucose in the blood is used for energy production when performing exercises that increase the heart rate for a short duration. Sustaining exercise for a longer duration keeps your heart rate high for a significant amount of time. This results in tapping the body fat for energy, thus helping you lose weight.
How Does Genetics Influence Endurance?
A 2016 study identified 93 genetic markers associated with endurance. Some variants allow your muscle to contract and relax repetitively for a longer duration, while the others may hinder this process.
These variants also influence other endurance-related aspects like:
The type of fuel used by the cells for energy production
The percentage distribution of muscle fibers (slow twitch and fast twitch)
The adaptability of the blood vessels to carry more oxygen.
ACE Gene and Endurance
ACE gene encodes angiotensin I converting enzyme. This enzyme plays a role in balancing electrolytes and regulating blood pressure in the body. The enzyme also influences capillary supply lines (blood flowing through narrow vessels) and aerobic (oxygen-dependent) metabolism in skeletal muscle.
rs4343 in ACE Gene and Endurance
rs4343 is an SNP in the ACE gene. It causes a G to A transition. The G allele is associated with deletion variation (one or more letters are removed from the sequence - D), and the A allele is associated with insertion variation (one or more letters are added to the sequence - I). Studies have found the A allele (ACE/I) to be commonly present among endurant athletes.
ACTN3 Gene and Endurance
ACTN3 gene encodes the Actinin Alpha 3 protein and is primarily expressed in the skeletal muscles - type 2 muscle fibers. Fast-twitch/type-2 muscle fibers are associated with the ‘sprinter’ variant. The slow-twitch fibers, on the other hand, are associated with the ‘endurant’ variant.
rs1815739 in ACTN3 Gene and Endurance
rs1815739 is an SNP in the ACTN3 gene. It causes a T to C transition. C is associated with fast-twitch fibers and promotes sprinting-based activities. People with the C allele may be better at sprinting than endurance-based activities.
ADRB1, COL5A1, GABPB1, HIF1A, and 47 other genes are also associated with endurance.
How Can You Improve Your Endurance?
The following tips can help in building endurance:
Push Through Some Yasso 800s
The concept behind Yasso 800s is pretty simple. Take your goal marathon time and then run 800 meters in that time; one small change - use minutes and seconds in place of hours and minutes. For example, if you’re trying to run a 4:15 marathon, your Yasso 800m goal time is 4 minutes and 15 seconds.
Sink Into Some Tunes
Listening to good music improves your cardiac efficiency by lowering your heart rate. This enables you to perform the task at hand for a much longer duration with maximum efficiency.
Caffeine shot gives a boost to the energy, which can help you complete rigorous tasks. However, it is important to be wary of how much caffeine your body can tolerate.
Exercises to boost your endurance
- Weight lifting
- Crunches-squats-lunges circuit
- Endurance allows your body to sustain exercises for a longer duration. There are two components of endurance, namely, cardiovascular and muscular endurance.
- Endurance training offers many health benefits, including improving bone density, enhancing the immune system, and regulating body weight.
- Genes that influence endurance play a role in the percentage of different types of muscle fibers, the ability of blood vessels to carry blood, and how the body uses fuel for energy production.
- ACTN3 is a gene that is associated with muscle fiber distribution. The presence of the T allele indicates a higher number of slow-twitch fibers, which are important for endurance. People with TT type tend to be better at endurance-based activities.
- Listening to music and caffeine consumption can improve an individual’s endurance. Exercises that boost endurance include jogging, swimming, cycling, and yoga.