What can you do in 20 minutes? Think about it, 20 minutes is just long enough to watch one of your favourite TV shows without commercials. 20 minutes is less than what most people take for a lunch break. People easily use up to 20 minutes surfing Facebook or playing Angry Birds. What do you get out of those 20 minutes? A laugh, a meal, not having to think. Can you do more with those 20-30 minutes? The short answer is yes, a 20 minutes of endurance training. You do not have to run a marathon to get the benefits of endurance training.
Below you will find out why endurance training is so beneficial. Also, how just 20 minutes of endurance training can create big changes in your life and increase your stamina for good.
What Is Endurance Training?
Physiologically (in your body’s tissue), endurance training utilizes oxygen and stored sugars to move. When your body undergoes a short (less than 30 seconds) burst of energy, your muscles utilize compounds like Creatine to catalyze sugars into energy. Once Creatine is depleted your muscles switch over to using oxygen as the catalyst to break down sugar and move your muscles.
Endurance training is any activity you do for longer than 10 minutes that feel moderately challenging. Endurance training is effective because it increases your overall metabolic rate (the energy needs of your body).
Every activity from sitting on the couch to running an ultra-marathon has a MET or (Metabolic Energy Equivalent) rating. This is the multiplicative effect the activity will have on your energy output (for example, a rating of 2.0 doubles your metabolic output).
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that individuals should strive for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week (that is 20 minutes a day). This can also be done through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week).
Discuss With Your Health Care Professional Before Starting Endurance Training
As always consult a doctor before starting an exercise routine. Take it slow if you are just starting gradually progressing physical activity, frequency and intensity to reduce the risk of injury, and know that you can benefit from even a small amount of endurance training! Wear comfortable shoes (ie. not dress shoes or flip flops) and comfortable clothes.
Consider walking a little faster, increasing the resistance on the machine, or skipping a step on the stairs. If you can only say one or two words before needing a breath then you are pushing hard, this is an intense range of endurance training. You will not be able to do the movement for an extended time. The middle range of endurance training is to be able to say half the song in one breath.
2 Approaches To Endurance Training
Activities that will give you the benefits of endurance training range from walking, running, stair climbing, cycling, rowing, cross-country skiing, swimming, etc. Anything you do for at least 20 minutes is moderately challenging. There are two ways to approach endurance training sessions depending on what you enjoy and what fits into your schedule.
Continual Pace Training
This approach entails choosing one activity and doing the same activity at the same pace (or within a small range of change). For example, going for a 20-minute walk and trying to keep the same pace the entire time. This approach is useful for a couple of reasons.
First, continual pace training is predictable. You will need the same equipment every time so you can efficiently plan what to bring to work, on vacation, etc.
Second, this training style is good for tracking improvements. After even 3 weeks of consistent training, you will feel more natural, you can track how you felt training, and when you increased speed or distance. This approach works well if you like consistency, want to track improvement through one primary activity and like to let your mind wander.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This approach also works well for endurance training by doing the same activity at very different intensities or a variety of movements at different intensities. For example, walking stairs for 5-8 minutes at a comfortable pace (able to say all of “Row Your Boat” in a breath). Then spend 5 – 8 minutes at a very intense pace (able to say one or two words of “Row Your Boat”).
Alternate between these intensities by doing the same activity. You can also integrate different training movements into cycles of HIIT training.
For example, spend one cycle on your staircase at home and the next walking in your neighbourhood. Continues with the alternating work and relief periods for 20 to 60 minutes. This is a great approach if you are easily bored with one thing and enjoy variation. Some enjoy mixing and matching movements and creating routines.
If anything endurance exercise has way too many benefits to not do. Take a look at your calendar, can you find 20 minutes for endurance training? Make an appointment 2-3 times a week on your calendar to exercise, experiment with which endurance method you enjoy more, try it for 3 weeks, and feel the difference in your mood and body with increased energy levels.