Endurance training is the deliberate act of exercising to increase stamina and endurance. Exercises for endurance tends to be aerobic in nature versus anaerobic movements. Aerobic exercise develops slow twitch muscles. Performing these exercises strengthens and elongates the muscles for preparation of extended periods of use.
Athletes train for endurance to compete in 5k and 10k races, half marathons, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons, Ironman competitions, Century bike rides, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and so on. Non-athletes can train similarly with an aerobic workout to burn calories and fat. It is known that long distance training (LDT) for endurance over long periods of time can be helpful to joints and ligaments as one ages.
Long-term endurance training induces many physiological adaptations both centrally and peripherally mediated. Central cardiovascular adaptations include decreased heart rate, increased red blood cell count, increased blood plasma which reduces blood viscosity and increased cardiac output as well as total mitochondrial volume in the muscle fibers used in the training (i.e. the thigh muscles in runners will have more mitochondria than swimmers). Adaptations of the peripheral include capillarization, that is an increase in the surface area that both the venous and arterial capillaries supply. This also allows for increased heat dissipation during strenuous exercise. The muscles heighten their glycogen and fat storing capabilities in endurance athletes in order to increase the length in time in which they can perform work. Catabolism also improves increasing the athletes capacity to use fat and glycogen stores as an energy source. These metabolic processes are known as glycogenolysis, glycolysis and lipolysis.
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