Increase the time you spend doing your favorite cardiovascular exercise. While the American Heart Association's recommendation of 30 minutes of daily physical activity is a healthy, achievable goal for a beginner, you'll need a longer period of aerobic exercise every day if you want to increase your lung capacity and cardiovascular function, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Keeping your heart rate elevated for an extended period challenges your heart and lungs and strengthens them over time. Pick an activity you enjoy and aim to workout for at least an hour. If you don't like running, don't force yourself to stay on the treadmill for an hour. You're more likely to stick to your endurance workout if you enjoy what you're doing.
Add interval training to your workout schedule. During intervals, alternate between short spurts of high-intensity work and longer periods of moderate exercise for recovery. For example, run for three minutes at a pace that allows you to converse comfortably. After three minutes, pick up your speed so you're running at a pace where you're breathing too hard to talk, but not pushing so hard that your legs start to burn. Hold this pace for 45 seconds. Repeat this cycle several times. During the high-intensity spurts, you're pushing your cardiovascular system to provide your body with oxygen more quickly.
Cross training increases fitness by working your muscles in new ways. When your muscles are challenged, they'll need more oxygen. You'll find your lungs breathing fast and your heart pumping harder to meet the new demands you're putting on your body. Change your routine with a new activity. If you run trails five days a week, trade one or two of these workouts for a bike ride. Cross training helps to eliminate the plateaus people often encounter as they increase their fitness levels.
Article Written By Kathrine Cole
Kathrine Cole is a professional outdoor educator. She teaches rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, and bike maintenance classes. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Trainer.