This is not about posing on stage in a Speedo or a bikini. This is not about our “mirror muscles” (those few of the 600+ that are on the front surface). This isn’t even about developing visible muscles that show some bulk or some “definition” at first glance. But this IS about muscles and strength.
This can be about all of those — but it’s mainly about the practical and proven health advantages of increasing our lean muscle tissue. So, if your first response to talk of new muscles makes you think of the first paragraph, think again. There are lots of benefits you may not be aware of.
Our business logo says “Feel Better – Move Better – Have More Energy,” so let’s start there. Energy: a pound of muscle burns 35 to 50 more calories per day than a pound of that other soft tissue (body fat) and it does that even at rest. We all want and obviously benefit from having more energy to go through our already pretty easy lives. I mean, if you’re getting tired in this culture, which is the easiest and most plentiful in the history of the human species, you’re not very healthy by any definition.
Now, calories are not the enemy. A calorie is a unit of energy. Specifically: “the energy needed to raise 1 gram of water through 1 degree Celsius.” We need them to give us energy but we have to use them by being more active than this cushy life requires and therefore becoming a more efficient human machine.
Additional benefits of building new lean muscle tissue are: the new energy (even when at rest, remember) will help decrease body fat while giving us a leaner appearance with better posture. Losing body fat is difficult but keeping it off is far more so. Lean muscle is the only physiological factor that allows us to keep the fat off.
New lean muscle will also give us better balance to prevent falls. And falls can change everything in our lives, from physical to psychological health. Better balance is just one of the ways increased strength prevents injuries with all the discomfort, pain and limitations they bring. By protecting the wear and tear on our joints, increased musculature reduces the chance of arthritis setting in. By lowering blood sugar levels, it also reduces the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes (which used to be called “adult-onset diabetes”) but sadly, the dramatic increase in overweight children required the term to be more inclusive. Our muscles increase our flexibility because weaker muscles inspire our system to automatically self-protect and not allow full movement which then leads to joint deterioration.
If all that isn’t enough, new lean muscle also improves our cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory systems which, of course, helps with our heart health and with our capacity to actively address low back pain, knee and hip discomfort/damage. Studies are also undeniably clear about its benefits for reducing the degree of depression.
OK, OK, enough about the reasons to do something. “What” to do about it has many options. We don’t have to lift weights, although that’s a very effective way to build if executed safely. With differing degrees of benefits, we can do bodyweight callisthenic movement exercises or, if proceeding without professional guidance and supervision, the use of machines usually puts us in relatively safe positions (although not really functional ones). I mean, when in daily life do you sit and push, pull or lift something challenging? Another disadvantage of most machines is the lack of necessary core work involved, but as I said, it’s mostly safe (there are exceptions though). Isometric work is often helpful if the joints involved are already problematic.
I could go into greater detail because there’s more. However, hopefully this spoke to some of you and will serve to open your mind to all the proven benefits of increasing your strength to make your daily life more pleasant.
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