Why Muscle Mass is Important For Health?

We are told that we need to strengthen our bodies, but it isn’t always clear to us why muscle strength is so important. In this article, I will break down the reasons why we need to maintain, and in many cases rebuild, our muscle mass.

Perhaps you thought that those people who go to the gym were there purely for vanity reasons. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are numerous reasons strength training is imperative for our health, and it’s time we had a better understanding of just why that is.

TIME, YOUR BODY, AND THE SECRET WEAPON

Physically inactive people will begin to lose a small percentage of muscle each decade after their 30s, which contributes to general weakness and lower quality of life. This is a natural process known as sarcopenia.

Many people believe that activities such as walking, cycling, or swimming will be enough to keep their muscles strong. But this is not the case. While these activities are certainly beneficial, they are not enough to keep your muscle mass intact.

Adding resistance training will retain your strength, improve your appearance, balance, and posture, and enable you to continue doing the activities you enjoy.

We must place a new demand on our muscles so they get the signal that you require more from them. I love the expression “Change doesn’t happen in your comfort zone,” and this is true for building muscle just as it is for our personal growth.

After you work out with added resistance, your body repairs and replaces damaged muscle fibers; but the great thing is, this muscle builds back stronger than it was in order to accommodate the new demands. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen. As I often tell my clients, your body can’t help but get stronger if you continue to place those demands on it in a safe and consistent manner.

Muscle knows no age, but the sooner you start, the better quality of life you’ll have in your 40s, 50s, 60s, and well beyond!

THE MUSCLE, HORMONE, AND METABOLISM CONNECTION

Strength training triggers the production of the hormones that control our metabolism as well as help us develop muscle. We’re learning that our musculoskeletal system serves as a sort of endocrine organ that plays a key role in metabolism.

In recent years, the hormones insulin and cortisol have become part of the conversation about body composition. We’ve begun to realize that getting lean is not as simple as “calories in versus calories out.” When it comes to changing your fat-to-muscle ratio, both calories and hormones matter, particularly as we age. While we need to be in a caloric deficit (taking in fewer calories than we’re burning) for your stored energy to be used as fuel, managing cravings when we’re trying to cut calories has more to do with hormones.

The fact that strength training can drive insulin levels down means that levels can normalize while cortisol is kept in check. Being that there seems to be a connection between cortisol and estrogen dominance (which can worsen for many women as we approach menopause), it’s important to keep both insulin and cortisol in normal ranges. When cortisol is elevated for extended periods of time, it can cause negative health issues, including increased belly fat.

Older people tend to be more insulin-resistant, but there is controversy regarding the reasons for this. Is it an inevitable part of aging or the result of lifestyle choices? Personally, I would bet that insulin resistance has more to do with lifestyle choices and is responsible for increased risk of type 2 diabetes as well as heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.

The bottom line is that strength training is the most powerful tool for building muscle and losing fat. There are no alternatives and no shortcuts. By recompositioning our body in this way, we will be better able to manage our hormone levels and keep that complicated endocrine system in excellent order as we age. Additionally, there is the fundamental fact that muscle burns more calories than fat. This means that the more muscle tissue you have, the more calories your body burns, even at rest.

BONE DENSITY

Most people know that strength training, whether with body weight, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands, can build muscle and strength. But did you know that by strengthening our muscles we also strengthen our bones, which in turn helps minimize osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is the loss of calcium and other minerals from a person’s bones, which makes the bones susceptible to fracturing.

A sedentary lifestyle is the biggest contributor to the loss of bone mass as we age. Bone loss is estimated at a rate of approximately one percent per year after about the age of 40, if we don’t purposefully work against it. The more significant the loss of bone density, the more susceptible we are to fracturing a bone, even while doing a simple task.

The great news is strength training can seriously slow bone loss, and as some studies have shown, can even rebuild bone. When first consulting with a new client who has been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, I’m always happy to learn that their physician recommended strength training, rather than putting them on medication or simply recommending a calcium supplement.

A “weight-bearing exercise” is a form of exercise that will help offset osteoporosis. Weight-bearing activity places stress on bones by creating a tugging action, which in turn can stimulate the growth of bone cells. The best way to create this tugging action is through strength training, although you’ll gain some benefits with aerobic activities such as walking, hiking, jogging, playing racquet sports, and even dancing. However, if you have a serious concern regarding bone loss, strength training has the greatest regenerative effect, by targeting bones in a purposeful way.

One of the most heartwarming parts of my job is witnessing my clients gain the wonderful sense of confidence that comes with gaining a stronger, more stable body. This confidence seems to propel them into new activities and serves to fulfill social and emotional aspects of their lives as well as their physical fitness.

STRENGTH, BALANCE, AND MOBILITY

Strength, along with balance, affects our ability to move in a functional manner; therefore, if our mobility is limited, due to decreased balance and strength, we will be at risk for the general deterioration of our structural bodies, as well as the emotional components that will likely accompany the loss of function.

If we allow our muscles to atrophy to the point of noticeable muscle loss and weakness, then both balance and mobility will be affected.

Good balance requires the coordination of several parts of the body, including muscles, bones, and joints. There are also other issues that can affect balance, such as poor eyesight or inner ear problems, but if we maintain our strength and range of motion, we will be less apt to lose our balance in the first place, and better able to recover if we do. Balance, as we age, is crucial. One of the leading causes of injury to aged individuals is falling.

The combination of strength, balance, and mobility equals stability, and stability equals a strong and sturdy body. Strengthening movements with free weights require stability so that your stabilizing muscles must kick in to help, and they in turn get stronger, along with the targeted muscle group. For example, by doing exercises one leg at a time, you’re required to balance if even for only a second or two, which requires the use of our hip stabilizers. By incorporating the hip stabilizers, we not only strengthen the muscles surrounding the hip joints, but we help create a more stable body in general.

These days there isn’t as much emphasis on flexibility as there once was. Instead, we focus on maintaining our natural range of motion in combination with strength. While it is important to maintain our natural range of motion, to stretch beyond that point can do more harm than good. An increase in flexibility without strength results in joint instability. So once again we see the importance of keeping our muscles strong.

BRAIN HEALTH

In recent years, various studies have shown that greater muscle strength is associated with better cognitive function in aging men and women. Cognition refers to brain functions relating to receiving, storing, processing, and using information. These findings were published in the European Geriatric Medicine Journal.

Scientists at Florida Atlantic University found that sarcopenia and obesity (independently, but especially when occurring together) can heighten the risk of cognitive function impairments later in life. These results were published in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging. Meanwhile, a 2012 University of British Columbia study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine compared cardio exercise and strength training in a randomized, controlled trial. Neuroimaging of the brain showed that the areas responsible for memory and executive function were more active after strength training.

This study showed that older adults who did both cardio and strength training were generally healthier compared to those who only did yoga and Pilates. But this study’s most significant finding was that those people who did the most amount of weight training showed significantly fewer lesions in the brain. The study concluded that lifting weights is beneficial to overall brain health.

It’s safe to say that strength training is good for us for so many reasons, including having neuroprotective properties. Lifting weights not only helps us regain physical strength and rev up our metabolism but it helps us retain a healthy brain as well!

Do You Have to Take Supplements with Muscle Training?

Muscle training boosts fat loss by enhancing both the afterburn after exercise and increasing muscle size, thus increasing resting metabolism.

Some people might also use natural fat burners as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle to increase metabolism or decrease appetite. When combined with a healthy diet, it will further increase the loss of excess body fat – and may also have other beneficial effects.

Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.

While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews because the supplement industry is rife with scams.

Besides, it should be noted that supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. Pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet and regular exercise.

In any case, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications or have any health concerns.

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