Endurance

The etymology of the word Endurane goes back to late 15th century where it was used to denote ‘continued existence or ability to last’; from 1660s it took on further meaning to indicate the “ability to bear suffering, etc.” Today the word endurance is mostly associated with physical fitness that demands considerable effort over long periods. They are now looked upon as building blocks for developing an athletic lifestyle. Knowing the fact that its physially and mentally horrowing experience, why people from different walks of life embrace endurance? This article is an attempt to show the mindset of an endurance athlete and why they go about adorning this life-style inspite of the odds they face in maintaing it.

Having interviewed many athletes I gather the fact that endurace though tasking, is addictive. This addiction springs from the latent benefit athletes get by running, cycling, swimming or any other sport that demands sustained long hours of muscle action. The latent effects could be a “runners high” where athletes experience the secretion of a chemical called Anandamide. Its basically a endocanabinoid, a neural chemical, thats secreted by the brain — central nervious system and the pea sized pitutary gland. These chemicals are secreted to reduce anxiety as the toll on the bodies are huge. This sense of euphoria gives the runners a sense of tranquility and happiness.

Beyond the sense of happiness a person receives on this gruelling sustained long actions like a marathon, there is a new theory emerging that people aspire for endurance because of what it does to their quality of life. They are able to face any odds, and generally they don’t bow down to pressure that easily. Now thats a quality which everyone aspires for.

In the book The upside of Stress author Kelly Mcgonigal says that an endurance sports cultivates a growth mindset. Endurance sports by itself is highly stressful but the best way to get good at stress is to engage it head-on like running or cycling long distance and practicing this again and again. She says that “Through endurance sports, you are learning to see yourself as someone who can choose to engage in difficult things, get through them, and evolve in consequential ways,”

What happens when we are in stress ? When a person is under stress he or she releases two important harmones — cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Cortisol is released by adrenal glands which are on top of your kidneys. They are released by getting signals from the brain (hypothalamus) to help a person when he or she is stressed. Higher levels of cortisol causes depression, fatigue. People who react to stress with a challenge response tend to secrete DHEA which tends to reduce depression and anxiety. So when you see stress and challenge them then we do have more secretion of DHEA. So endurance sport may not do anything about stress but they build us to face them effectively by cultivating a growth mind-set.

In the end its important to view stress as a challenge and leverage that to form social ties. By doing so we can unleash some forces within to confront all stress in life an lead a calmer and healtheir life.

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Ashok

Ashok

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