“Stamina” is the strength and energy needed to exert oneself for an extended period of time. The word most commonly refers to the exertion needed for physical activities like exercise and sports. However, “stamina” can also refer to the mental exertion needed to perform a task or get through a difficult situation. Improving either type of stamina (or both!) is a great choice if you’re interested in living and feeling healthier.
Method 1 of 5: Stamina through diet
1Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Food is the fuel your body gets its energy from. A healthy, well-balanced diet keeps your body healthy and energized, raising your stamina. Try to eat a well-balanced, low-fat diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean meats. For long-lasting energy, doctors also recommend having up to a third of your diet be composed of starches and carbohydrates (whole wheat varieties are preferable).
- To keep your body steadily supplied with energy throughout get energy by eating several smaller meals throughout the day rather than one or two large meals.
- Snack on fruits, raw vegetables, nuts and other lean proteins between meals. Carry high-energy fruit and nut mixes with you during times of extended performance, such as hiking, cycling or cramming for final exams.
2Stay hydrated. The health benefits of drinking lots of water are numerous – it can help you lose weight, prevent kidney stones, and much more. Water can also increase stamina by fighting muscle fatigue. Muscle tissue that is under-hydrated can under-perform, so keep your stamina up by drinking about 17 ounces of water a few hours before strenuous exercise.If you’re starting on a long distance run or an extended exercise, have plenty of fluids with you so they’ll be available if you get thirsty later.
- If you’re likely to drink more fluid if your drink is flavoured, consider using a sports drink like Gatorade, Powerade, etc. These drinks have the added benefit of replacing your body’s electrolytes – important nutrients involved in muscle function that are lost when you sweat. However, if you’re also trying to lose weight, note that these drinks can be calorie-dense.
- Use caffeinated energy drinks sparingly. They’re good for a short boost, but can hamper long-term stamina.
Method 2 of 5: Developing physical stamina
1Get plenty of physical exercise. Though it will tire you out in the short term, physical exercise increases your overall energy level and stamina over a long period of time. For optimal health and increased stamina, make time in your schedule for regular exercise. For adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise per week (or 75 minutes of intense cardiovascular exercise), along with strength-building exercise sessions at least twice a week.
- Cardiovascular exercise, such as aerobics, running, biking, and dancing, exercises your heart and lungs, increasing the efficiency with which your body supplies oxygen to its muscles. As a result, your body’s endurance and stamina will gradually increase (and its fatigue levels decrease) with cardiovascular exercise.
- Strength-building exercises, such as weightlifting and body weight exercises (push ups, sit ups, etc.) gradually build the stamina (not to mention the size, definition, and strength) of your muscles. Over time, you’ll notice a definite difference – you’ll be able to lift bigger loads for longer.
2Choose physical activities that you love. It’s easier to push yourself physically, improving your stamina, when you’re doing something you genuinely enjoy, rather than something you dread. Tailor your workout to include mostly activities that you enjoy – these may be things that you’re already good at, but they may also be things that you haven’t tried yet. If you’re not sure which types of exercise you enjoy, experiment by including many different kinds in your workout for a week or two. You may discover, for instance, that you prefer low-impact exercises, like swimming and biking, over your previous attempts running, or you may discover the opposite!
3Lead an active life. If you’re very, very busy, you may simply not have enough time every week for exercise. Luckily, you can mitigate some of the negative effects that come from the lack of a regular exercise routine by simply keeping in motion throughout the day. Avoid staying still for long periods of time – almost any type of movement is good for your cardiovascular health; the more, the better. Instead of driving to work, bike or walk. If your job has you in front of a computer all day, use a standing desk or a walking desk instead of sitting. Wear a pedometer and shoot for a goal of 10,000 steps every day. The more you’re up and about, the better your overall health and stamina.
4Involve others in your activity. If you find that you’re not able to achieve the stamina level you’d like on your own, consider doing your physical activity of choice in the company of friends. Believe it or not, friends can make it substantially easier to push yourself physically. Friends can offer you encouragement when you’re tired. They can even give you a few well-meaning verbal jabs to keep you “pumped up.” Finally, in the presence of friends, you may find that you don’t want to quit – that you want to impress your friends by pushing yourself to the limit.
- Your exercise partners don’t have to be friends or peers. Bring the kids, the dog or a neighbour when you go for your daily exercise activity. You can also join a gym that offers to pair you with exercise buddies or enrol in exercise classes where you can make new friends that you know will have similar fitness goals to your own.
Method 3 of 5: Giving your body adequate rest
1Get plenty of rest. While it’s important to stay active with exercise, if you’re shooting for high stamina it’s just as important to stay well-rested. A good night’s rest should leave you refreshed, energized, and focused, ensuring that you’ll be able to physically give your all. Inadequate rest, on the other hand, can leave you groggy and under-performing. Bad sleeping habits have also been linked to a number of health problems that can negatively impact your stamina: weight gain, high blood pressure, and illness, to name a few.
- While everyone’s sleep needs are different, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night is generally considered unhealthy and has been linked to the health concerns listed above.
2Gradually build up to your target level of stamina. Any attempt to improve your stamina through exercise should be approached somewhat gradually – try to do too much too early, and you may exhaust yourself or give up. Instead, set simple, specific goals as stepping stones to your major goal, like first running 1 km., then, in two weeks, 2 kilometers (1.2 mi), then 5 kilometers (3.1 mi), and finally 10 kilometers (6.2 mi). Celebrate each milestone you reach as an achievement. Build up: Don’t give up!
- For cardiovascular exercise, start out slowly, mildly increasing your heart rate and maintaining that heart rate for no more than 30 minutes the first time. Increase the intensity and duration of your performance by small, realistic intervals until you reach your goal. Within a few months, you’ll likely have made serious improvement while barely noticing the change!
- For strength-building exercise, begin at a weight or resistance level that’s easily manageable. Add only a few small weights to your barbell or exercise machine. Alternatively, if you’re doing a body weight exercise, you can usually modify the exercise to make it easier in some way – dropping your legs to make a push up easier or doing a crunch instead of a sit up, for instance. Gradually increase the weight, resistance, or intensity of your exercise to smoothly build strength over time.
Method 4 of 5: Developing sexual stamina
1Devote time to improving your sexual stamina. Many people hoping to improve their physical stamina have one specific goal in mind – longer, better sex. Improving your sexual stamina is partly a matter of improving your physical fitness, so the exercise tips in this section are all of use if your lovemaking sessions are often cut short because you find yourself exhausted or out of breath during sex. Chronically short lovemaking can also have a variety of hormonal or medical causes, though these can be rare – if you’re already physically fit and you have poor sexual stamina, you may want to see a doctor just in case. However, sex is much more than a purely physical activity. Just as important as your physical health is your emotional well-being. An inability to have satisfying sex is often the result of emotional issues or interpersonal problems within a relationship. Below are just a few of the causes of unsatisfying sex, along with notes about possible cures:
- Erectile Dysfunction. Men who have difficulty maintaining an erection may, when they do get one, rush to orgasm. Luckily, a variety of medications are available to treat ED. Make an appointment with your doctor – most ED medications are available only via prescription.
- Biological Causes. Hormone disorders, brain chemical imbalances, thyroid problems, and, rarely, nerve damage, can all make it difficult to have satisfying sex. In this case, because the root causes vary and are not immediately obvious, it’s best to receive evaluation from a doctor before proceeding with a treatment.
- Medicinal Causes. Certain medications can interfere with your libido, making long, satisfying sex difficult. In this case, you may want to discuss alternate treatment options with your doctor.
- Anxiety issues. Sex, particularly if you’re inexperienced, can be intimidating. Stress and nervousness can make it difficult to “get in the mood” or cause you to finish early. If this is the case, do what you can to calm yourself and remain stress-free before sex – realize that, for all the importance we place on it, sex doesn’t need to be nerve-wrecking. If you can’t seem to calm you jitters, make an appointment with a counsellor or therapist.
- Relationship issues. Sometimes, unsatisfying sex can be the result of emotional problems or tensions between the two partners. In this case, it’s best to talk frankly and openly with your partner, though, if you think you need it, it’s also appropriate to contact a couples counsellor.
Method 5 of 5: Improving mental stamina
1Visualize your goal. It’s easy to get mentally sidetracked if you’re focused on the difficulties that lie in the details of the task you’re trying to complete, rather than the goal you hope to achieve. Don’t miss the forest for the trees – never lose sight of the prize. Always keep your final product in mind as you approach any trying task – this will help you stay focused and keep you from wasting time on inconsequential side-task.
- You don’t even have to focus on your literal goal – you can try thinking of other triumphant imagery. Close your eyes and let your mind wander – build a mental picture of yourself finishing a race with a burst of speed or getting an A on the final exam. Just don’t fall asleep!
- Avoid dwelling on the challenges, obstacles or hurdles you may face before reaching your goal, but be aware of them and work hard to overcome the hurdles and reach your goal.
- In school, keep your motivation high and build your stamina for studying prior to final exam week by hosting study sessions for friends all school year.
2Break your problem into pieces. If you think of your problem as one big, monolithic task, it’s very easy to get discouraged. Instead, keep your mental stamina high by breaking your work into smaller, easier chunks. Focus on doing the most important things first or completing the process as a series of sequential steps. The sense of accomplishment you’ll get from completing each small piece of your problem will help keep you focused and attentive as you tackle the rest of your work.
3Build your ability to focus. Your brain isn’t a muscle, but it can be strengthened like one. Work up your ability to concentrate and focus on serious work over time in the same way you would build strong muscles. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your mental tasks. Over time, doing an amount of mental work that would previously have left you exhausted will seem normal – even easy.
- For instance, if you’re trying to learn guitar, but find it too difficult to concentrate on the repetitive early tasks of practicing basic chords and scales, try practicing every day, increasing the amount of time you practice daily by five minutes every week. For example, practice 30 minutes per day the first week, 35 the second, etc. In less that two months, you’ll be practicing an hour a day and you’ll be well on your way to gaining some serious fretboard skills.
4Eliminate distractions. Often, when faced with a difficult task, people allow themselves to procrastinate by pursuing meaningless distractions. To keep your mental stamina high and stay focused on your task, clear these distractions from your life. If, for instance, you have a bad habit of playing online games instead of getting started on the pile of work in your “In” box, download a free productivity app that blocks gaming websites. If you waste time reading trashy magazines instead of writing the novel you’ve been planning, cancel your subscriptions. Do anything and everything you can to isolate yourself with your work – you’ll have no excuse but to do it!
- Clear your schedule. Check your calendar for upcoming events that will interfere with your ability to devote yourself to your work – if you’ve got a serious schedule conflict, give up or reschedule the “fun” event in favor of your work.
5Use stimulants sparingly. Coffee and energy drinks can be useful if you’re looking for a short-term energy boost, as caffeine can cause your energy level and focus to sky-rocket. However, these things aren’t useful to improve long-term mental stamina, as they often cause you to “crash” after the initial boost, becoming drowsier than you were before. They can also be habit-forming – if you develop an addiction to caffeine, it may lose its usefulness even as a temporary pick-me-up.
- Never use prescription stimulants (like Adderall, etc.) as a work or study aid – these drugs can have powerful side effects and shouldn’t be used unless they’re prescribed by a doctor.
6Talk to others. If you’re relying your mental stamina to get you through an emotionally trying time like a breakup or a personal loss, know that almost any problem is easier to get through if you share it. Confide in a friend, family member, loved one, or other trusted person when you’re having trouble enduring in times of distress. Often, it’ll feel good simply to open up about how you’re feeling – these people don’t necessarily need to help you solve your problems to make you feel better.
- If you’re hesitant to talk to others because your problems are very personal, it even help simply to express your problems to yourself. Think about how you feel deep down at your core and write these feeling down in a journal or private notebook. After a short time, come back and read these thoughts – you may find that you’re surprised at what you wrote and that you’re now able to focus more clearly on overcoming your issues.
7Take breaks. Just like physical stamina, mental stamina requires plenty of rest. If you’ve been concentrating hard on finishing a task or getting through a difficult situation, give yourself a brief break when you get a chance. If you’re at the office, step out into the hallway for some piece and quiet or splash some water on your face in the restroom. If you’re having a hard time maintaining a smile at a tense social event, excuse yourself and, for a few minutes, simply allow yourself to rest. You’ll be amazed how much even a brief respite from a mentally trying situation will leave you feeling refreshed,