Athletes: Get the Most Out Of Play With Endurance Training

Health Minute     Fall 2019

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If you’re an athlete dedicated to your sport, not every skill comes naturally.  

One key part of an athlete’s ability to perform and excel is having the endurance to power through. And, endurance training can help athletes build that drive. 

“Endurance training is exercise focused on improving stamina, or the athlete’s ability to do something for a longer period of time,” says Paul Krebs, MD, of Premier Orthopedics, part of Premier Physician Network. “For most athletes, this is looking at aerobic fitness or cardiovascular fitness. And, this is the body’s ability to get oxygen to the body and to the muscles that are using it during exercise.” 

Generally, exercises such as walking, running, biking, and swimming are great for endurance training. 

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends all adults get 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week. All athletes should be getting at least that minimum. 

Athletes that play endurance sports should build even more endurance training into their workout routines to improve their ability to be competitive. Athletes playing power sports, such as football and volleyball, should work on endurance training to push themselves to play at a higher level. 

Not everyone needs a personal trainer for endurance training, but you might find that it helps to keep you on track and focused.  

And, for accomplished athletes, endurance training can help them participate at a high level of activity for a longer period of time.  

“This consistency and availability are important qualities in an athlete, and endurance training can improve both of these characteristics for an athlete,” he says. 

The most common type of endurance training is cardiovascular exercise, which focuses on building lean muscle. Your muscles might not look visibly bigger, but they will be getting stronger. 

Jumping Into Endurance Training 

Endurance training can also protect athletes by helping them keep their form and biomechanics while they play. 

“When athletes get tired or fatigued, their biomechanics and form can change, which places new stresses on their body,” Dr. Krebs says. “As their form breaks down, it places new stresses on their tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones, which can lead to overuse and stress injuries.” 

As with any athletic activity, there can be a risk of injury with endurance training. Most often, endurance training injuries include stress fractures, strains, or tendonitis, and happen because of overuse. 

These injuries are more likely to happen when you increase the volume of your training too quickly. 

“For athletes getting into a new activity, like endurance training, the key to staying healthy is being patient and having a good plan and appropriate guidance,” Dr. Krebs says. “The potential benefits of endurance training far outweigh the risks, as endurance training and cardiovascular fitness can decrease the risk of chronic disease and the need for medications.”

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Source: American Heart Association; Paul Krebs, MD; Premier Orthopedics

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