I hear it all the time... "I don't lift weights because I don't want to get too muscular." As if it was that easy to build a body like Schwarzenegger (circa 1980). Or "I want to lose weight. So I don't lift weights. I just do cardio." WRONG!!! These are two mental road blocks that I battle within the population everyday. They are mythological thoughts that we have been almost brainwashed into believing. Yet our country continues to get fatter.
When we think of a healthy body, many of you probably don’t give much thought to our muscles. But maybe you should. Try this on for size (and then read on)...A UCLA study shows a link between increased muscle mass and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By now you should all know that having less body fat reduces the risk of diabetes risk. But this UCLA study suggests that higher muscle mass may also lessen insulin resistance, which is one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The benefits of muscle mass build-up go beyond its effect on diabetes: it also increases strength and endurance, and lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease by improving heart and lung function.
But that’s not all. Strong muscles burn calories and help us maintain healthy weight, enhance bone strength, increase balance and flexibility, build stronger connective tissue, support our joints, and help our mobility.
However, as we age, our muscle mass diminishes. Most of us lose 3 to 5 percent of the mass per decade, and the decline increases after the age of 50. The consequences of this muscle mass loss can be quite dramatic. Conditions such as osteoporosis, joint pain, reduced range of motion, and backaches are not uncommon.
The good news is that we can build lean muscle mass at any age through strength training – also known as resistance training, which causes the muscles to contract, leading to improved tone, mass, and endurance.
In fact, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend strengthening exercises that work all the major muscle groups such as legs, hips, back, shoulders, neck, abdomen, chest, and arms at least twice a week.
There are many exercises that will build up muscles. You can work them against a force – such as weights or bands – or use your own body for resistance, for example with squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks (among others). There really are plenty of possibilities.
Additionally, stronger muscles lead to a healthier, leaner, and more toned body. So, the advantages of resistance training are numerous.