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Difference Between Cardio Endurance & Muscular Endurance

By Barbara Bryant

Cardiovascular endurance increases the body's absorption of oxygen to permit steady, low-to-moderate movement for extended periods.

Muscular endurance relies on weight resistance to increase physical strength, bone density and muscle mass and allows the body to move at high speeds for short periods of time. Both should be developed to ensure good health.


Cardiovascular (aerobic) endurance is the ability of the heart, blood vessels and lungs to provide oxygen and fuel to the muscles steadily for extended periods.

Muscular (anaerobic) endurance is the ability of individual and groups of muscles to contract repeatedly while resisting weight-driven pressure without reliance on oxygen.


Cardiovascular endurance helps the body to perform physical movement or work without interruption for long periods.

Muscular endurance increases physical strength, bone density and muscle mass.

Health Benefits

Cardiovascular endurance: • Improves blood circulation, lowering blood pressure • Strengthens respiratory muscles to increase lung (breathing) capacity • Strengthens the heart • Helps prevent heart and lung disease • Provides energy

Muscular endurance: • Ensures strong bones • Maintains and increases muscle mass • Increases speed and power • Reduces muscle fatigue


Exercise that promotes cardiovascular endurance is light to moderate in intensity, triggers rapid breathing and is performed for more than several minutes without interruption. Examples include running, bicycling, brisk walking, stair climbing and elliptical machine training.

Muscle endurance exercises include resistance training using free weights, weight-machines and resistance bands, and the person's body weight (e.g. jumping, push-ups, pull-ups, abdominal crunches and leg squats).

Safety Considerations

Sedentary people should begin exercising slowly and at low intensity to prevent injury.

Include flexibility exercises (gentle stretching) before and after any workout to warm muscles and prevent injury.

Avoid over-training to prevent injury or illness. Fatigue is the body's way of signaling the need for rest.

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