At ACTIVE, we're firm believers in the power of endurance sports.
We've seen firsthand how swimming, cycling and running (sometimes all three) can make a lasting impact in the lives of those who participate—not just for physical health, but mental and spiritual health as well.
But what exactly are the benefits of endurance sports, besides catching a "runner's high" and being able to eat your way through the day?
Grab your tablet, lace up your shoes and hop on your stationary trainer or treadmill, and get ready to feel good about feeling good.
Remember, these are general benefits about cardiovascular exercise. Please consult a health care professional to see if endurance sports are right for you.
Improved Mental Strength
No matter if you're just getting off the couch and running for the first time or you're an IRONMAN triathlete, there's something to be said about setting a crazy fitness goal, working hard and pushing your limits to reach it. The daily mental gumption it takes to train (and race) and overcome physical discomfort helps train your mind to challenge perceived limitations. This is a skill that bleeds into everyday life, whether it's in work or business, forming new habits, or any other aspect you can think of.
Sleep and endurance training go hand in hand. If you've had a history of inconsistent sleep habits, introducing swimming, cycling or running into your training schedule will no doubt help tire you out for a good night's sleep (cardio also helps produce melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep cycle). Sleep also plays a crucial role in recovery, so if you're training hard, be sure to shoot for at least eight hours a night (or more) so you're recovered and rested for the next day's effort.
Expanding Social Circles
What do you notice about runners and cyclists as you drive by in your car? They're often not alone, and more often than not, they're in a group. Of course, this makes exercising in traffic safer, but it's also simply because swimming, cycling or running is more fun (and more motivating) when you're surrounded by a group of friends while you feel the burn. Most groups have a website with a training schedule, so be sure to stop by and introduce yourself!
Better Body Positivity
Endurance athletes come in all shapes and sizes. By the simple nature of endurance training, you'll likely naturally drop weight over time, your skin will look healthier from all the sunshine and fresh air (don't forget sunscreen when appropriate!) and you'll feel overall healthier and more fulfilled. We'd call this a win, win, win.
Similar to having a healthier body image, endurance sports are also a great "reset button" if you're having a tough day or find yourself in a funk. A regular swim, bike ride or run has been proven to help combat depression, as the improved circulation helps get mood-boosting oxygen to the brain.
There's a common saying in endurance sports: eat to ride, ride to eat. Whichever outlook you prefer, it's no surprise that cardio workouts have been proven to boost metabolism. This means that endurance athletes adapt to process what they eat faster and more efficiently, so technically yes, you can enjoy that post-run pint at the brewery without the guilt.
Improved Fitness Levels
OK, OK, this one's obvious, but it's nevertheless important to remember: If you want to get in better shape, you have to work for it! Sticking to a training plan tailored for your weight-loss or race goals will go a long way in helping you see the stamina, distance or pace results you're looking for. Ready to get started? Click here for a 12-week triathlon training plan for beginners, click here for a training schedule for marathon beginners or click here for a sample three-month training plan for cyclists.
Why do you swim, bike or run? Let us know some of the benefits of endurance sports you've experienced below!
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