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Top 5 Aerobic Endurance Activities

20 Jun 2016
This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Aerobic Endurance

This is the third installment of a five-post series on aerobic endurance training.

If you’ve read parts 1 and 2 of this series, hopefully you are sold on the benefits of regular aerobic activity for you.

And if you are an aspiring obstacle athlete, the benefits of aerobic endurance are especially important.

There are many outlets you can choose from to get in aerobic exercise. Here are a few of the most common options, including the one you’ll most likely engage in for obstacle race training: running.

You can pick one or a combination to engage in for at least 30 minutes several days a week and reap the benefits of aerobic endurance training! 

1. Walking

wanderer-455338_1920 Walking is the most basic, easily accessible form of aerobic exercise.

If you’ve never exercised before or don’t have access to a fitness center, walking for at least 30 minutes most days of the week is a simple way for you to reap the health benefits of aerobic exercise.

If you can’t fit in 30 consecutive minutes, add up a few minutes throughout the day: take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, get up and walk from your desk every hour or two for 5 minutes, and if you live nearby, consider walking to work.

You can vary your walking routine by going for a hike or longer outdoor walk on weekends.

Walking can also be used as a steppingstone for other aerobic activities, namely jogging and running. Some popular fitness programs like the Couch to 5K ® plan combine walking and jogging (or wogging) as a building block to sustained jogging or running.

2. Runninga young woman running in the mountains

If you’re new to exercising or returning after a prolonged relapse, once you’ve gotten comfortable with walking regularly, you may be ready to level up to running. Something like the Couch to 5K ® plan can help get you there.

My Beginner’s Obstacle Race Training manual, 12 Weeks. 22 Workouts. Your First Obstacle Race also contains a running program that takes you from walking to jogging and running in time for your first OCR.

An important thing to keep in mind about running is that it’s a high impact activity, meaning that if you have any history of joint pain or related issues in the lower body or back problems, you should consult with your physician before taking up a running program.

If you don’t have the okay to run or if you just hate running, you have other options, like the next three.

3. Biking

bicycling-1160860_1280 Easier on the joints, biking is a great alternative to running.

Whether it’s outdoors as your means of commuting to work, mountain biking on weekends, cycling classes, etc. you have a few options to choose from to enjoy this activity.

If you have access to bike or a gym membership, all you have to do is find at least 30 minutes most days of the week to cycle.

4. Swimming

swimmer-1434868_1280 Not only good for your lungs and heart, swimming can also serve as a great muscular development exercise for your arms and shoulders. It’s also lower impact relative to running and other weight-bearing activities.

Perhaps the key drawback to swimming is accessibility. If you don’t have access to a pool, this probably won’t be an option for you. Also, considering travel time to a facility, changing into swimwear, showering afterwards, etc. swimming may not be an attractive option if you are limited on time.

But if you enjoy swimming or think you may like it, you should consider this activity and make time for it – even if it’s a weekend once or twice a month and engage in other aerobic activities during the week.

5. In-Gym Cardio


If you have a gym membership, you have several aerobic exercise options. From cardio cross trainers to choreographed group exercise, you can vary your aerobic endurance routine every time you go to the gym.

What in-gym cardio machine or activity is the best?

It really depends on your goals. If your goal is to improve aerobic fitness, maintain weight, and burn calories, you can choose an option that’s most enjoyable for you to engage in most days of the week. You can also mix it up and participate in a different cardio machine or aerobic-based activity every time you go to the gym.

If your goal is to improve sports-specific performance or endurance, it may be best to choose equipment and activities that complement your sport of choice. If you’re a runner, you’re likely to use the treadmill as an alternative to outdoor running during inclement weather. A spinning class that simulates a hilly ride can complement mountain biking.

Lastly, you can use in-gym cardio and other aerobic-based activities as a way to cross train.

Stay tuned for the next installment with more on cross-training and other techniques to build aerobic endurance!



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