HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: BENEFITS OF STRONG MUSCLES

This generic person’s no dumbbell.

As we age, we lose muscle tissue, bone density and strength.  Consequently, we become more vulnerable to accidents that can put an end to our ability to lead the active and independent life we’d become accustomed to.

Strength training can slow down, may even reverse, our physical decline.  It can help manage, may even avert, conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and osteoporosis.

Strong muscles are good for a healthy heart.  They more easily extract oxygen and nutrients from the blood than do flabby muscles, thus putting less strain on the heart.

Strong muscles help regulate blood sugar levels.  They’re better at removing sugar from the blood and keeping the body sensitive to insulin than are flabby muscles, thereby controlling or preventing type 2 diabetes.

Without the tug and pull of muscles on our bones, we don’t efficiently absorb calcium.  Our early astronauts came back from missions with osteopenia—no gravity, no resistance for muscles to overcome.  The men were given elastic resistance bands to work out with on subsequent flights.   If we aren’t working our muscles against resistance, we’re inviting osteopenia and/or osteoporosis into our bones and lives.

Strong muscles help us to balance and avoid falling.  If we do trip, the muscles help us right ourselves before we fall.

Strong muscles are good for our vanity.  We look better in bathing gear, shorts and sleeveless tops if we’re well-muscled.

My Take on building muscles:  When I’m sleeping, my fat is inert.  It just lays there, looking flabby.  But my muscles, because they’re living matter, are busily working at burning calories, even while the rest of me is doing nothing.

And that’s the reason why muscles are the key to weight management.  It’s not so much because of the calories burned working out as it is because of muscles’ ability to burn calories 24/7.  Pretty sweet!

If you aren’t ready yet to tackle free weights or weight machines, stay tuned for BUILDING STRONG MUSCLES in which I’ll describe some of Harvard’s excellent starter exercises to build strength.

from Harvard Medical School Healthbeat, May 29, 2012      Also other sources

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