How to Increase Your Cardiovascular Endurance?

There are a number of health benefits associated with increased cardiovascular endurance. If you are feeling unfit, tired or sluggish, and looking for ways to increase your own health and wellbeing, read on.

I will take you through the basics and give you some tips to get you started. Here is everything you need to know about cardiovascular endurance and the benefits of increasing it.

If you prefer to watch a video instead, then I recommend this informational video:

What is Cardiovascular Endurance?

Cardiovascular endurance can be simply defined as how effectively your heart is pumping blood and oxygen around your body.

Increasing your cardiovascular endurance will improve your overall fitness level. This, in turn, will enable you to exercise for longer periods of time.

What are the Benefits of Increased Cardiovascular Endurance?

Not only will you be physically fitter with an increased cardiovascular endurance, but you will be able to enjoy a number of other benefits. These benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • A reduced risk of stroke and heart disease, thanks to improved circulation.
  • A reduced risk of developing osteoporosis (a disease that weakens your bones). (1)
  • An increase in the ability to lose weight thanks to the energy and fat you can burn. (2)
  • An improvement in brain function and cognition. (3)

How to Increase Your Cardiovascular Endurance

There are a number of things you can do to improve your cardiovascular endurance. However, the steps that you take may vary, depending on your health and current fitness level.

Be sure to consult your doctor if you have any underlying health issues, before taking steps to enhance your endurance.

Find Your Current Fitness Level

Before you start working on increasing your cardiovascular endurance, you need to determine your starting level. Knowing what your current endurance is will indicate how often you should exercise and the intensity of the workouts you should be doing.

If you are not very fit to begin with, you will need to increase your workout intensity more slowly. If you already have a good level of fitness, you will have to work harder to develop your level further.

Work With Your Heart Rate

When working to increase your cardiovascular endurance, you will be pushing your heart rate to higher limits.

Before trying to increase your heart rate, you need to determine your current maximum heart rate or “HRMax.” This is the fastest rate that your heart can beat during exercise.

Once you have determined your HRmax, you can calculate the level that you want to increase your heart rate to during exercise. There are a number of ways to work out your HRmax.

The easiest way is to subtract your age from 220, however, there are a number of other methods on the internet you can try too. (4)

When you know your HRmax, you can work on setting goals to gradually increase your heart rate while exercising. The target you set yourself should be based on your current fitness level. Here are some guidelines you can follow:

  • If you are not fit, aim for no higher than 145 bpm
  • If you are in average shape, while exercising at a moderate intensity, aim to keep your heart rate between 60 percent and 70 percent of your HRmax.
  • If you are in average to above average condition, aim to keep your heart rate at 80–90 percent  of your HRmax, during high intensity exercise.

Start Aerobic Exercise

Getting started with your exercise is the next step, and there are so many different choices available. It is important to constantly challenge your body, so always try to get involved in a variety of different activities.

While performing aerobic exercise, be sure to adapt the length of your workout according to your fitness level.

Consider your heart rate during your exercise sessions too. Adapt the intensity of your workouts according to your heart rate. Monitor your heart rate and try to keep it within your target zone. Here are some great aerobic activities you could try. (5)

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Aerobics
  • Rowing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Dancing

While exercising, try to incorporate different levels of intensity within the same session. This will help to maximise the progress you are making.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

In the era of smartphones and smart devices, it has never been easier to monitor your heart-rate, sleep, calories and nutrition. Use these devices to your advantage and really keep on top of your progress.

Technology can help you set and meet specific goals, as well as track the progress of each workout you do. Some great apps for health and fitness can be found here. (6)

Types of Endurance Training

Endurance training will help to increase your cardiovascular endurance. Here are two types for you to get started with, one low impact and one high impact.

Long Slow Distance Training

This common and popular form of endurance training is also easy for those with a low fitness level. Long and slow distance (LSD) training is used by marathon runners and long distance cyclists. It involves covering long distances at a comfortable pace.

LSD training can easily be done every day, thanks to its low impact nature. However, ensure you allow time to recover properly between each session. You should aim to keep your heart rate between 50 percent and 70 percent of your HRmax for the best results.

Interval Training

Interval training involves alternating between high-intensity and low-intensity effort within a work out session. For example, when running, this will involve jogging with intermittent bursts of sprinting. (7)

This stop and start pattern trains your body to increase recovery time, which will eventually enhance your endurance and fitness levels. As this style of training is hard and of higher intensity, it can be difficult to do every day.

This type of exercise is best when alternated with other aerobic exercises to help increase your cardiovascular endurance.


Increasing your cardiovascular endurance improves not only your overall health but also your fitness level. However, the best way to develop it varies, depending on your current health and fitness.

  • If you are not fit and healthy, seek medical advice before starting any exercise program. Start at a suitable level and slowly increase your activity.
  • As cardiovascular endurance is based on your heart rate, it is very important to closely monitor and track this.
  • Set realistic targets and try your best to meet them by performing a variety of different aerobic exercises.
  • Use the technology available to help you keep on track.

Let me know if you make any progress with increasing your endurance and how you did it. If you have any questions, I’d love to help so don’t be afraid to get in touch.

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