As I alluded in Part II of the Functional Reserve series, it is now time to address endurance. Endurance comes in two commonly-recognized forms: muscular endurance and cardiopulmonary endurance. We see these most commonly expressed through endurance events (marathon, triathlon) and using associated muscular (repetitions to fatigue at a given resistance) or aerobic performance measurements such as VO2max. As with cognition and balance, it is also natural to lose some endurance as we age. This is due to too many factors to detail here, but includes maximum heart rate, ejection fraction, elasticity in the cardio and pulmonary systems, as well as limitations in neuromuscular recruitment at the levels of the peripheral nervous system and NM junction. We can, however, mitigate these age-expected losses by investing in our future selves. We can create a functional reserve in endurance now, that our 81 year old or 90 year old selves can draw from in the future. How? Perhaps the most available means to efficiently create endurance reserve would be to engage in a few sets of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) across your week. This could be as simple as 3 sit to stands at maximal pace, 3 intentionally slow, 3 fast, and 3 to cool down. It may be as convenient as taking the same approach with your walking speed; laundry basket lifts; floor to stand while weeding; or stairs in your home. HIIT can be applied in most any functional or exercise-focused movement.
I could write a LOT more about creating a functional reserve for endurance, yet I will resist, to spare your time and introduce an important but rarely discussed aspect of endurance. This being psychological. Having the ability to absorb life changes considers our psychological endurance. Take a moment to review what you have endured already in your life and give yourself an audible compliment. Do this routinely to build your self efficacy, “I have overcome a lot and can continue to overcome future changes.”. Build your functional reserve in physical AND psychological endurance.