Many of us participate in endurance exercises regularly without even knowing it—for example when we take a brisk walk, climb stairs, do yard work, play basketball or tennis, dance, jog and swim. Partaking in these activities makes it easier to walk farther and faster, to push uphill when we’re tired; it also helps us do gardening, shop nonstop or play a sport.                        

Experts agree it’s better to build endurance gradually, especially if you’ve been physically inactive for years. “One of the simplest exercises someone can do to start building endurance is walking,” says Anthony Wall, the director of professional education at the American Council on Exercise. “Other activities can include swimming, jogging and group fitness classes.”

Start by doing any of these moderate-intensity endurance activities for 5 or 10 minutes. Then, build up to 30 minutes. Try doing the activity for at least this amount of time on most or all days of the week, advises the National Institute on Aging. Also, be realistic: Set goals based on your health and abilities.