Overview

Cardiorespiratory endurance is the level at which your heart, lungs, and muscles work together when you’re exercising for an extended period of time. This shows how efficiently your cardiorespiratory system functions, and is an indicator of how physically fit and healthy you are.

It’s useful to know your cardiorespiratory endurance level because it can either be a sign of health or a sign that you need to improve your level of fitness. Increasing cardiorespiratory endurance has a positive effect on your overall health. Your lungs and heart are able to better use oxygen. This allows you to exercise for longer periods without getting tired. Most people can increase their cardiorespiratory endurance by doing regular exercise.

Read on to learn more about cardiorespiratory endurance.

Cardiorespiratory endurance tests

Metabolic equivalents (METs) are used to measure your intensity of exercise and uptake of oxygen. They measure energy expenditure at rest.

Cardiorespiratory endurance is measured by maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) and how it’s used during intense exercise. Higher amounts of oxygen uptake show that you’re using more oxygen and that your cardiorespiratory system is functioning efficiently.

VO2 tests are usually done with a clinician or exercise physiologist in a laboratory, hospital, or clinic. You can do submaximal tests with a qualified fitness instructor.

Submaximal exercise tests are used to measure your cardiorespiratory endurance. If you’re physically fit or an athlete, you can measure your cardiorespiratory fitness using:

  • the Astrand treadmill test
  • the 2.4 km run test
  • the multistage bleep test

More sedentary people can do the Cooper 1.5-mile walk-run test. You can also do a treadmill test or estimate your own levels comparing how fast you run to average results from races.

The tests can help provide information about how well your heart and lungs are working to get oxygen to your muscles during exercise. Your results may indicate your risk for developing heart disease or other chronic diseases. They will include resting blood pressure and heart rate. The results can then be used to help determine the type of exercise and weight loss programs that may be needed.

Exercises to improve your cardiorespiratory endurance

These exercises may help you to improve your cardiorespiratory endurance. You don’t need a lot of equipment, so they can be done anytime and anywhere. You can even try doing 5–10 minutes of these exercises a few times per day if you don’t have large blocks of time available for exercise.

The exercises can help to burn fat, develop muscle, and get your heart pumping. It’s also important that you breathe deeply while doing the exercises.

Try to do each exercise for at least a minute. You can take a 30-second break in between each exercise. They require a certain amount of endurance, so you can gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts.

Run and jump in place

Do each of these steps for 30 seconds.

  1. Jog in place.
  2. While continuing to jog in place, lift up your knees as high as they’ll go.
  3. Next, start to bring your feet back and up as though you want to touch your butt.

Jumping jacks

  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms by your side.
  2. Jump your feet apart as you raise your arms over your head.
  3. Jump back to the starting position and continue this movement.

Standing side hops

  1. From a standing position jump side-to-side with both feet at the same time.
  2. You can jump over an object with a bit of height to increase the difficulty.

Side to side hops

  1. From a standing position, lower your butt down in a squat position.
  2. Step your right foot as far over to the right as you can.
  3. Then bring your left foot to meet your right foot.
  4. Step your left foot as far over to the left as you can.
  5. Bring the right foot to meet your left foot.
  6. Continue this fluid movement.
  7. Keep your butt down low the entire time. Increase your speed or sink into a lower squat to increase the difficulty.

In and out hopping squats

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Jump your feet to the side so they’re wider than your hips.
  3. Squat in this position.
  4. Jump your feet back together and squat in this position.
  5. Continue this movement.

Burpees

  1. From a standing position, jump up and lift your arms.
  2. When your feet touch the floor, drop your hands down to the floor underneath your shoulders.
  3. Jump, step, or walk your feet back to come into a plank position.
  4. Hop, step, or walk your feet forward toward your hands.
  5. Jump up and continue the movement with which you started.

Other activities

You can also do other physical activities such as:

  • running or jogging
  • swimming
  • cycling
  • dancing
  • boxing
  • aerobics or similar activities
  • any active sport

Takeaway

Increasing your cardiorespiratory endurance requires getting regular physical activity. Make sure you’re doing aerobic exercises that cause you to get your heart rate going. Add variation to your workout routine as much as possible. This allows you to work out different muscle groups and gives your body the chance to rest. Take charge of your health and begin an exercise program today.