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The Best Cardio Exercises To Boost Your Endurance as You Age

Go harder for longer with these endurance-boosting activities.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Reality check: Getting older can be challenging. It's completely natural to slow down with age and take things a bit easier than you used to. However, aging doesn't mean you should neglect your physical fitness. Once you reach your 40s and beyond, it's more critical than ever to take excellent care of your body to help ensure you can keep doing the things you love for as long as you like—not because an aging body has forced you to watch life from the sidelines. To help you out with your physical fitness, we've rounded up some of the best cardio exercises to improve your endurance as you age.

A vital aspect of your fitness to focus on is your aerobic endurance. This is your ability to exercise for lengthened periods of time, ScienceDirect explains. Cardio-based activities that boost endurance include brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing, playing tennis, and even dancing, which are all great ways to stay healthy, improve your fitness, and perform daily tasks. Additionally, endurance exercise can boost the health of your lungs, circulatory system, and heart, while reducing chronic disease risk, according to the National Institutes on Aging.

If you're looking for effective cardio exercises to improve your endurance and support long-term health, we've got you covered. Here, we spoke with Samantha McKinney, CPT, a personal trainer with Life Time, to get the lowdown on the four best exercises to improve your endurance as you age. Read on to learn more.

Swimming

mature man swimming in lake
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As you age, wear and tear on your joints can take its toll. Fortunately, low-impact activities like swimming are an excellent alternative to high-impact endurance activities (e.g., running) since they're easier on your joints, research shows. Plus, water's buoyancy cancels out the earth's gravity, putting less pressure on your joints, according to Swimming World.

Joining an aqua class can be a fun way to boost your endurance while socializing. "Aqua classes help elevate your heart rate, get in a cardio workout, and build community," says McKinney. "However, consider first taking a few swimming lessons to learn proper form."

RELATED: The Best Fitness Habits That Increase Your Muscular Endurance After 50

Cycling

mature woman on exercise bike, concept of cardio workouts to increase stamina as you age
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If you're looking to improve your endurance but save your knees and reduce injury risk, cycling may be the option for you.

A review of several studies published in the European Review of Aging and Physical Activity found that adults aged 70 and older who started cycling experienced improved cardiovascular function, better metabolic outcomes, and increased cognitive performance.

"For many, interval training on a treadmill can be hard on the knees. Using a stationary bike with added resistance is a great way to incorporate high-intensity training without the jarring, pounding impact of gravity that can happen in other modalities," explains McKinney.

Pickleball

pickleball teammates
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Who says endurance exercise has to be repetitive and boring? If you're up for it, sports like pickleball, tennis, and squash are fantastic ways to increase your endurance while having fun.

For example, besides improving cardiovascular health, researchers from a 2021 study observed that older adults who played pickleball regularly for six weeks enhanced their vertical jump height and cognitive performance. In addition, the participants reported less joint pain.

"There's something to be said about making exercise fun, which is why incorporating non-traditional methods of cardiovascular training that involve others can help a lot," states McKinney. "Pickleball popularity is on the rise, and one of the reasons is because it can provide a great workout that doesn't feel like exercise. In addition, the time passes quickly, allowing more total active minutes per week."

RELATED: You Won't Increase Your Muscular Endurance if You're Not Doing These 5 Exercises

Walking

active senior couple walking outdoors in the summertime on trail, demonstrating how to improve your endurance
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Whether you prefer a brisk morning walk or a relaxing evening stroll, walking outdoors can work wonders for your cardio and endurance.

"Lower intensity activities like walking lay the foundation for your endurance and aerobic capacity," says McKinney. "Walking trains your body's 'engine' to help burn fat more efficiently and to better recover from higher intensity exercise."

If you want to push yourself, try incline or speed walking for an extra challenge.

Adam Meyer
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam
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