Why is Muscle Mass so Important?

person lifting barbell
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

Here at Weigh to Wellness Denver we talk frequently about being physically active. This blog is dedicated to explaining why strength training is necessary. We will be going over how adequate muscle mass helps with overall health and wellness.

1.) Gait and Mobility:

  • Maintaining or improving muscle mass as you age is vital to keep your ability to move around.  It could mean the difference of being able to walk at 80 or 90 years old or being wheelchair bound.
  • The more muscle mass you have the less stress you put on your joints.  Utilizing muscles to move and be mobile helps reduce strain on joints and could help lower joint pain.
  • Building muscle mass can help improve coordination and balance.  This helps to reduce injury as you age.  Or it can help improve you current mobility and ability to aid in sports.

2.) Increased resting energy expenditure:

  • It takes more calories to maintain muscle mass than to break it down.  Therefore, if you increase muscle mass you burn more calories all day long.
  • Muscle mass is metabolically active and can help get you into a state of fat burning.

3.) Decreased waist and hip circumference:

  • This goes along with the fact that you can be burning more calories during the day with more muscle mass.  Those extra calories can come from your fat stores.  The more you tap into your body fat the more inches you lose from your waist and hips.
  • A decrease in waist and hip circumference can help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

4.) Increased bone density:

  • Some studies have shown an increase of bone density mass of 1% with addition of strength training to weekly physical activity regimen.
  • Strength training can even improve bone density in postmenopausal women.
  • Also note that it has been shown that you can lose bone density by stopping strength training. So routine and consistent strength training is important for at least maintaining bone density as you age.

5.) Better glucose control:

  • In order to build muscle you need to have amino acids and glucose available. During the act of strength training you can use up more blood glucose that is available to help with muscle contraction.
  • To build muscle for the 24 hours after a strength training session you still need glucose and amino acids to build up muscle mass.  So you end up utilizing blood glucose all day after strength training.

6.) Better mood and mental attitude:

  • Strength training has been shown to effectively reduce anxiety.
  • More studies are being done that show strength training exercise can be as effective in reducing mild to moderate depression as cardio exercise.
  • Studies have also shown improved self-esteem in groups that compare strength training vs other types of exercise.
  • Strength training increases the release of endorphins in the brain just like cardio exercise which increases energy and mood.

How to start increasing your muscle mass:

  • Start implementing body weight exercises on a daily basis:
    • Push ups
    • Tricep dips
    • Floor ab moves
    • Plank
    • Squats
    • Lunges
  • Get a personal trainer:
    • Have them teach you how to use gym weight machines appropriately
    • Have them build a personalized plan for you
    • Use them for increased motivation and accountability
  • Start adding resistance to some cardio workouts:
    • Add resistance to stationary bike.
    • Start walking up hill or climbing stairs
    • Use rowing machine

We hope this blog helped to motivate you to start adding strength training into your weekly physical activity regimen!  As always, feel free to call and schedule an appoint if you need more help with this topic.