What Is Endurance?

Endurance (also related to sufferance, resilience, constitution, fortitude, and hardiness) is the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue. It is usually used in aerobic or anaerobic exercise. The definition of ‘long’ varies according to the type of exertion – minutes for high intensity anaerobic exercise, hours or days for low intensity aerobic exercise. Training for endurance can reduce the ability to exert endurance strength[1] unless an individual also undertakes resistance training to counteract this effect.

Runners Triathlon Competition Running JoggingWhen a person is able to accomplish or withstand a higher amount of effort than their original capabilities their endurance is increasing which to many personnel indicates progress. In looking to improve one’s endurance they may slowly increase the amount of repetitions or time spent, if higher repetitions are taken rapidly muscle strength improves while less endurance is gained.[2] Increasing endurance has been proven to release endorphins resulting in a positive mind. The act of gaining endurance through physical activity has been shown to decrease anxiety, depression, and stress, or any chronic disease in total.[3] Although a greater endurance can assist the cardiovascular system it does not imply that any cardiovascular disease can be guaranteed to improve.[4] “The major metabolic consequences of the adaptations of muscle to endurance exercise are a slower utilization of muscle glycogen and blood glucose, a greater reliance on fat oxidation, and less lactate production during exercise of a given intensity.”[5]

The term stamina is sometimes used synonymously and interchangeably with endurance. In military settings, endurance is considered the ability of a force to sustain high levels of combat potential relative to its opponent over the duration of a campaign.[6]

Endurance may also refer to an ability to keep going through a tough situation involving hardship, stress, etc. (see patience)


  1. Hickson, RC (1980). “Interference of strength development by simultaneously training for strength and endurance over a long period”. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology. Springer Verlag. 45 (2–3): 255–63. doi:10.1007/BF00421333PMID7193134.
  2. “Physical Activity Line: BC’s Primary Physical Activity Counseling Service & Your FREE Resource! – Physical Activity Line: BC’s Primary Physical Activity Counseling Service & Your FREE Resource!”physicalactivityline.com.
  3. Hansen, CJ (2001). “Exercise Duration and Mood State: How Much Is Enough to Feel Better?”(PDF)Health Psychology20 (4): 267–75. PMID11515738. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  4. Iwasaki, Ken-ichi; Zhang, Rong; Zuckerman, Julie H.; Levine, Benjamin D. (2003-10-01). “Dose-response relationship of the cardiovascular adaptation to endurance training in healthy adults: how much training for what benefit?”Journal of Applied Physiology95 (4): 1575–1583. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00482.2003ISSN8750-7587PMID12832429. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  5. Holloszy, J. O.; Coyle, E. F. (1 April 1984). “Adaptations of skeletal muscle to endurance exercise and their metabolic consequences”Journal of Applied Physiology. pp. 831–838.
  6. Headquarter, Department of the Army (1994). Leader’s Manual for Combat Stress Control, FM 22-51, Washington DC.

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