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Benefits of Muscular Endurance, Muscular Strength and Cardiovascular Endurance

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Aaron Edings
April 6, 2011

As popularity of professional athletics continues to grow, so does the circumference of the average Americans waistline. With obesity becoming nothing short of a pandemic the era of exercise has taken a dramatic shift in recent years. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are beginning to address exercise not only as a science but as a form of “preventative care”. What was once thought only to improve ones speed, tackle, or jump shot has now been shown to save ones’ life. The science of exercise has undergone much construction and reconstruction over the years as new medical discoveries are becoming more and more constant. Through excessive research, physicians are now able to correlate exercise with obesity and other life threatening diseases. They are also able to use and administer exercise to “at risk” individuals as a form of preventative care. In addition to improving and maintaining physical health, exercise has been recently linked with improve mental health. Although the benefits of physical activity have changed and continue to change, the most basic components still remain; cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and muscular endurance. Various sports and/or activities may place more emphasis on one over the other; however each contribute to the athletes overall performance. Furthermore, each component makes individualized contributions to an individuals’ health and wellbeing. Understanding each one separately is important for achieving optimal health and fitness. Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) has gained the most attention by both athletic directors and physicians due to the physiological benefits it provides to the body. CRF, often associated with cardiovascular fitness; refers to the ability of the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen and fuel to working cells for prolonged periods of time (Heart Advisor, 2). Sports that require sufficient use of the bodies Aerobic energy system should focus on improving CRF through training such as running or cycling. When the body is trained to deliver and utilize oxygen more efficiently muscles are able to work harder for prolonged periods of time at various intensities and training loads. In addition to improving athletic performance, CRF provides significant benefits to the more general population. Many studies argue that poor CRF in both youth and adults is a significant contributor to Type 2 Diabetes (Shaibi, 460). Low levels of CRF have been linked to increased insulin resistance in adults and may also be indicative of Type 2 diabetes in children. Combined research done by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Southern California found that of the 26 participants (13 with type 2 diabetes, 13 without), CRF was roughly 18% less in the diabetic youth group compared to the control group. Increased CRF can greatly prohibit glucose uptake that may in turn help lessen the likelihood of Type 2 diabetes. The ability for the body to deliver oxygen more effectively additionally helps the body’s defense mechanisms, including immunity, making fighting infections easier. Cardiorespiratory fitness has also been found to lower or reduce blood pressure, and prevent coronary artery disease. While CRF may contribute the most significant benefits to the bodies physiological functioning, there are other components of exercise that contribute to an individuals’ capability for performing day to day functioning. Muscular strength may be the most important component of fitness in terms of movement and flexibility, both critically important in the aging population. Strength is most commonly achieved through resistance training. Resistance training can be done either in the form of free weights or machines. Athletes, such as wrestlers or linebackers should focus on maximizing their strength by performing at “60 to 70 percent of their maximum capacity for one lift” (Archer, 2002). Increasing weight gradually is the safest and most effective way to maximize muscular strength. Because muscular dystrophy is common with age, physicians are beginning to stress the importance of resistance training in the elderly. Statistics show that adult ages 70-80 have 20% smaller muscle size and that over half of adults between the ages of 65-69 do not put in adequate amounts of exercise (Taylor, et al). The positive correlation between the decrease in muscle size and muscle strength in aging adults is often linked to injuries sustained from falling, lifting, or kneeling. ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) guidelines recommend older adults focus on ‘multiple and single joint exercises’ while using 40-60 percent of their maximum capacity (Archer, 2002). In addition to preventing muscle dystrophy and boosting athletic performance, muscular strength can have significant benefits on individuals suffering from obesity. Lean muscle gained through resistance training makes significant contributions in boosting ones metabolism, which a primary factor in weight loss and weight management. ‘Reduction in adiposity, and insulin resistance has been proven to be reversed through progressive resistance training (AC Benson, 1017). Improving muscular strength through exercise can also improve muscle power and muscle endurance. Endurance may be one of the most important, yet often overlooked aspects of exercise, particularly for the non-athlete community. It refers to the body’s ability to “sustain exercise performance for prolonged periods of time” (Drust and Morton, 19). Those sports such as swimming and cycling that rely heavily on the bodies aerobic energy system require training exercises that are prolonged and “sub-maximal” (19). Particularly, muscle endurance is the maximum number of repetitions a muscle can perform with a given load. The most effective way to increase muscle endurance is by focusing on longer duration and shorter recovery time. In addition to improving the bodies aerobic energy system, exercise physiologists have been able to link muscular endurance to other systems in the body including cardiovascular, respiratory, and musco-skeletal (Kubukell, Noakes, & Denss, 2002). Improving the transportation and utilization of oxygen to demanding cells contributes to increased cardiovascular and respiratory performance. Skeletal muscle cells as well are compliant to endurance training by adapting structurally, functionally, and chemically (20). Long-term muscle endurance training makes significant contributions to the overall health of the cell allowing it to function at its peak performance, thus contributing to improvements in various other systems in the body. The benefits of physical fitness seem to be almost limitless, and as the science of exercise continues to expand, coaches and doctors are discovering more and more benefits to exercise from the most anatomical to the most physiological. It is without question a fact, that individuals (regardless of age, sex or gender) should incorporate exercise and physical activity into their lives in order to maintain and/or prevent health issues.

Works Cited * Shaibi, Gabrial Q et al. "Cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity in youth with type 2 diabetes." Pediatric Diabetes 9.5 (2008): 460-463. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. * Archer, Shirley. "STRENGTH TRAINING UPDATE." American Fitness 20.4 (2002): 50. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. * Cardiorespiratory fitness key to longer life." Heart Advisor 14.1 (2011): 2. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. * Benson, A. C., M. E. Torode, and M. A. Fiatarone Singh. "The effect of high-intensity progressive resistance training on adiposity in children: a randomized controlled trial." International Journal of Obesity 32.6 (2008): 1016-1027. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. * Drust, Barry, and James P. Morton. "PROMOTING ENDURANCE TRAINING ADAPTATIONS WITH NUTRITIONAL INTERVENTIONS: THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF 'LOW CARBOHYDRATE ' TRAINING." Kinesiology 41.1 (2009): 19-24. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. * Kubukeli, Z.N., Noakes, T.D., & Dennis, S.C. (2002) Training techniques to improve endurance exercise performances. Sports Medicine, 32, 489-509.

Cited: * Shaibi, Gabrial Q et al. "Cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity in youth with type 2 diabetes." Pediatric Diabetes 9.5 (2008): 460-463. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. * Archer, Shirley. "STRENGTH TRAINING UPDATE." American Fitness 20.4 (2002): 50. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. * Cardiorespiratory fitness key to longer life." Heart Advisor 14.1 (2011): 2. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. * Benson, A. C., M. E. Torode, and M. A. Fiatarone Singh. "The effect of high-intensity progressive resistance training on adiposity in children: a randomized controlled trial." International Journal of Obesity 32.6 (2008): 1016-1027. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. * Drust, Barry, and James P. Morton. "PROMOTING ENDURANCE TRAINING ADAPTATIONS WITH NUTRITIONAL INTERVENTIONS: THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF 'LOW CARBOHYDRATE ' TRAINING." Kinesiology 41.1 (2009): 19-24. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. * Kubukeli, Z.N., Noakes, T.D., & Dennis, S.C. (2002) Training techniques to improve endurance exercise performances. Sports Medicine, 32, 489-509.

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