Want to increase your stamina? Work on your cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance!

Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to how well your body does while performing a physical task. A healthy diet, weight control and interval training are great ways to improve this.

An increase in stamina, low chances of heart disease and control over high blood pressure are all benefits of cardiorespiratory fitness. Cardiorespiratory fitness, also known as cardiorespiratory endurance, cardiovascular fitness, and cardiovascular endurance, improves oxygen levels in the lungs and heart when we are doing anything that involves physical exertion.

Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to how well your body can perform when you are exercising. If your cardiorespiratory fitness is on point, you can endure long, physical exercise without getting tired. Read on to learn more about cardiorespiratory fitness, the exercises that can help you improve it, as well as the risks involved.

What is cardiorespiratory fitness?

Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) refers to the ability of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to deliver oxygen during prolonged physical activities. โ€œIt is an important sign for overall health and heart function,โ€ explains cardiologist Dr Chirag D.

According to research published in Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Abdominal Obesity, cardiorespiratory fitness can be determined by gender, age and genetics, as well as, the relationship between your health and physical activity. Strong CRF allows you to perform daily activities with more ease, reducing fatigue during tasks like climbing stairs or carrying groceries. It also helps you recover faster from exercise, allowing you to get back to your workout routine sooner.

What are the various endurance tests for cardiorespiratory fitness?

Your cardiorespiratory fitness can be measured through some tests.

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The Treadmill Stress Test
The Treadmill Stress Test
is when a patient is hooked on to electrodes to measure his heart function while doing an exercise. Image courtesy: Freepik

1. VO2 Max Test

This test measures the maximal uptake of oxygen in a high-intensity exercise. In this exercise, you get on a treadmill or a bike and increase your intensity every few minutes, until you are exhausted. This method is touted to be the most accurate one, states this research, published by the University of Virginia.

2. 6-Minute Walk Test

This test evaluates sub-maximally distance covered within six minutes. This test is low risk and is useful in assessing adults who have love cardiorespiratory fitness, states this study, published in Pulmonology.

3. Treadmill Stress Test

This test monitors heart rate during increasing intensity levels on a treadmill. This test is usually done in a lab, where electrodes are put on the patientโ€™s chest, and these are then connected to an ECG machine. This makes a record of all heart activity, including blood pressure and heart rate, states this study, published by the National Institute of Health.

What are the causes of low cardiorespiratory fitness?

Various causes are associated with low respiratory fitness levels. Some of these are as follows:

  • Sedentary lifestyle: No regular exercise and sedentary desk jobs can lead to cardiorespiratory fitness levels dropping. No exercise often leads to fatty material in your arteries. This can cause serious problems, including a heart attack. Exercise is beneficial for cardiovascular health, states this study, published in Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine.
  • Chronic diseases: Illnesses like heart attack, diabetic condition, and lung problems can also lead to a drop in cardiorespiratory fitness. This disease can also cause pain and fatigue.
  • Obesity: The burden of excessive body weight on the heart and lungs can lower cardiorespiratory fitness levels. It may also lead to cardiovascular diseases and needs to be worked on at once, reports a study, published in the Journal of Obesity.
  • ย Aging: Gradual deterioration of body strength and muscle mass over time. A study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, states that cardiorespiratory fitness levels decrease with age.

How can you improve your cardiorespiratory fitness?

There are various ways to work on your cardiorespiratory fitness levels. Here are a few ideas that you can try out.

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1. Regular aerobic exercise

Regular exercise such as walking, running, and cycling improves the performance of both the heart and lungs. A study, published in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, states that adults should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 60 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA).

2. Interval training

Endurance can be enhanced through fluctuating intensities between highs and lows. High-intensity interval training is a form of exercise where you have short periods of intense and explosive movements, followed by low-intensity exercise or even rest. This helps control obesity and increase cardiorespiratory fitness levels, states this study, published in Frontiers in Public Health.

3. Healthy diet

Nutrient-rich foods support overall physical health and energy levels. A study, published in Nutrients, observed the impact of a healthy diet on a group of Korean adults from 19-64 years. The VO2 Max test was used to determine the cardiorespiratory fitness levels. It was seen that adults, in the age group of 19-34 years, reported high CRF levels.

4. Consistency

Regular, sustained effort is crucial for long-term improvements. Make sure that you continue to do the above-mentioned things regularly to see a change.

Woman in the gym
Cardiorespiratory fitness can be improved by regular exercise. Image courtesy: Freepik

Cardiorespiratory activities

You can try some cardio-respiratory activities that help elevate your breathing and heart rate for an extended period of time, suggestsย fitness expert and Fit India Ambassador Wanitha Ashok.

  • Brisk walking
  • Running
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Aerobics
  • Dance
  • Zumba
  • Jumping rope
  • Stair climbing
  • Treadmill
  • Stationary cycling
  • Cross trainer
  • Circuit training
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Kickboxing

What to keep in mind while doing CRF exercises?

Make sure to keep these things in mind when you practice cardiorespiratory fitness:

  • One should start slow and gradually build the workout in terms of duration and intensity.
  • You should not push yourself and listen to your body.
  • Hydration before, during and after the cardio respiratory exercises is advised to replace the list water in the form of sweat and to prevent giddiness and nausea.
  • Itโ€™s not advisable to do cardio respiratory exercises in the hot Sun, the best time to workout is early morning or evenings. In cold temperatures itโ€™s advisable to be dressed in layers.

What are the risk factors related to cardiorespiratory fitness?

Low cardiorespiratory fitness, linked to an inactive lifestyle, weakens your bodyโ€™s ability to use oxygen during exercise. Age, genetics, and certain medical conditions can also contribute. Additionally, high lipid values, high blood pressure, higher heart rates, higher waist circumference and higher body fat percentages can affect cardiorespiratory fitness levels, states this study, published in Scientific Reports.

Regular physical activity is key to improving your CRF. Even small increases in activity can significantly benefit your heart, lungs, and overall health.



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