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What is Endurance?

Endurance is a person’s ability to exert themselves and remain active for an extended period of time.

Two Components of Endurance:

1st – Cardiovascular endurance: how efficiently your heart, blood vessels, and lungs supply oxygen-rich blood to working muscles during physical activity.

2nd – Muscular endurance: how a muscle or group of muscles can sustain repeated contractions for an extended time.

How would having low endurance affect you in the water? Let’s think about it.

  • How could you catch a wave if your shoulder muscles gave out?
  • How could you paddle out past the break if you had shortness of breath?

We are going to go over how to compensate for these limitations below.

Signs of Low Muscle or Cardiovascular Endurance


Localized pain

Muscle cramps

Muscles twitching


Weak grasp

Shortness of breath


Lightheadedness or headache

Slowed reflexes or responses

Laying one’s head down on board

Inability to speak comfortably and audibly while exercising

While working with someone with low endurance, always:

  • Provide moral support and encouragement during the activity.
  • Check in with them – ask them how they are feeling and how you can help.
  • Remember not to make assumptions about one’s needs for help. Often participants have developed a system that has worked well for them.

Ways to Help Athletes with Low Endurance

  • Energy conservation is KEY!
  • Remember the 5 P’s of energy conservation
    • Plan
    • Prioritize
    • Pace
    • Positioning
    • Pursed Lip Breathing


Plan an appropriate pace while on the water.

  • You have a limited amount of time in the water. Remember the most important thing is to have fun and not to catch the most waves.

Stay hydrated. Plan out water breaks.

  • Encourage your participant to drink water even before they feel thirsty, especially on hot days.


  • Prioritize what is most important.
    • Ask your athlete what is most important to them: do they want to paddle out, do they want to play in the water or do they want to catch and ride as many waves as possible?


  • Start slow and steady. Don’t do too much too fast.
  • Exercise should be stopped if the person becomes overly fatigued, dizzy, short of breath, or develops a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
  • Remember muscle fatigue can improve with rest and recovery. So take breaks.
  • Getting past the wave break can be very exhausting. Remember that a pusher or water safety volunteer will help.


Use the equipment:

  • A two-person kayak or double wave ski is a great way for you to take on more paddling and to give the participant a break.

Remember you are part of a team:

  • You are not alone out there; there are lots of people that can assist. If your athlete’s muscles are getting tired or they feel fatigue, ask one one of the water positions to help.

Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing is a breathing technique that can be used during the activity, during breaks, or after the activity.

Pursed lip breathing can help you focus, slow your breathing down, and stay calm.

How To Do Pursed Lip Breathing

  1. Relax neck and shoulder muscles.
  2. Breathe in (inhale) slowly through your nose for 2 counts, keeping your mouth closed.
  3. Pucker or “purse” your lips as if you were going to flicker the flame of a candle.
  4. Breathe out (exhale) slowly and gently through your pursed lips while counting to 4.
  5. Repeat.

Some Conditions That Affect Endurance

  • Cardiac or pulmonary impairments
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
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