If you’ve ever found yourself becoming tired in the middle of the day or unable to walk up a flight of stairs without taking a break, then it’s time to talk about your stamina. Many factors can decrease the amount of stamina you have naturally. However, the good news is that you can also increase that amount by just following a few simple tips. Let’s go over stamina and how to improve yours.
What is Stamina?
First, let’s break down a common misconception. Stamina and energy are not the same things. Energy is your body’s ability to generate effort, while stamina is your body’s ability to maintain effort. Think of it as the difference between sprinting and running a marathon.
With that said, the amount of stamina you have relates to your physical and mental endurance, affects your ability to withstand periods of stress, and can reduce fatigue and exhaustion. So it’s essential that you maintain solid levels of stamina for day-to-day activities.
Why Does Your Stamina Decrease?
Everyone’s body is different regarding how much stamina we can naturally produce and how fast we can build it up. However, losing stamina happens much faster and more quickly than you may think. While it is a gradual process, it is also continuously happening whether you are aware of it or not. Here are some of the reasons you may encounter a loss of stamina.
Not getting enough physical activity
This is one of the biggest reasons for low stamina. Living a sedentary lifestyle decreases not only your stamina but also weakens your muscles. This weakening of the muscles means that you can find yourself at risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and many other health issues.
Your body is a machine, and any machine needs the right fuel to operate correctly. Following a poor diet can increase inflammation and fat levels in the body. Consuming candy, baked goods, soda, and other sugary items causes fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can throw your body off, as well as sudden dips in energy (sugar crashes). In addition, large or heavy meals cause your body to focus more on digestion than producing stamina, leaving you feeling lethargic instead of refueled.
Lack of sleep
The effects of sleep deprivation on the body can be devastating. So it’s no surprise that your stamina will take a distinct nosedive if you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep at night. Lack of sleep severely limits the amount of energy your body can produce, which in turn means that your tolerance for physical and mental activities also goes down because your gas tank dries up faster. Your body cannot run on empty for very long, even if your stamina levels are high.
Moments of stress can feel like they’re giving you a mountain of energy and the ability to keep going as long as you want. However, this is only a trick of your hormones. Being under stress, whether small amounts for an extended period or severe amounts for a short period, causes your body to send your adrenal glands into overdrive. They begin producing larger-than-normal amounts of adrenaline and cortisol, which quickly depletes the body’s stamina, especially when the effect wears off.
Ways To Increase Your Stamina
So, now that you know what can cause a lowering of your stamina, how can you both prevent these things and increase your stamina? Here are a few methods for giving yourself the endurance you need.
Exercise more often
The quickest way to train your body to increase stamina is to train your body. Consistent physical activity signals your cardiovascular system to become more efficient to keep up with the work that is being demanded of it. Efficiency in your cardiovascular system leads directly to less energy being burned right away, meaning your body will maintain stores of energy for longer periods.
Exercise also leads to the release of endorphins. These hormones help reduce feelings of exhaustion and minimize discomfort while exercising, which means you can go for more extended periods without needing to stop.
According to one study from 2017, participants who displayed work-related fatigue improved their stamina and energy levels after only six weeks of exercise intervention.
Eat a balanced diet
If junk food leaves you in a slump after eating it, eating healthy food will give you plenty of stamina. Stick to fruits and vegetables, and limit your carb consumption. Your body converts the calories from these foods into energy that it can use more efficiently, which means you’ll increase your stamina by having more energy to spare for a longer time.
Instead of eating three large meals a day, try to eat five to six smaller meals throughout the day. Smaller meals digest faster, allowing your body to focus more energy on physical and mental activities rather than breaking down the feast you consumed.
Most people only drink water when they feel thirsty. This habit does their bodies a disservice. By the time you are thirsty, you’re already starting to feel the effects of dehydration. Staying hydrated has a multitude of benefits. It can help prevent fatigue, increase brain function, and decrease oxidative stress during high-intensity exercise.
Be wary of sports drinks. While they do contain vitamins and minerals that can help boost performance and increase stamina, some also contain a lot of sugar. Consult the nutritional facts before reaching for a sports drink to combat your thirst.
Make rest and recovery a priority
If you do a lot of physical labor or exercise at least semi-regularly, you must take time to stop and rest your body. Your body can only replenish stamina if you give it time to rebuild. Giving it time means getting a good night’s sleep and taking the proper amount of time to rest during exercise. Don’t push through feelings of pain or exhaustion to get to the finish line.
Follow these steps, and you’ll find yourself not only increasing your stamina but also keeping that increased stamina even in the face of heavy exertion or exercise.