We all know that building muscle helps with strength and makes us look fit. But what exactly are muscles? How do they contribute to our health, and how can we be more efficient at keeping our muscles healthy.
Muscles are a band or bundle of fibrous tissue that has the ability to contract, producing movement in or maintaining the position of parts of the body.
There are three categories of muscle:
- Skeletal – Moves your body and stabilizes joints.
- Cardiac – Myocardium, the heart muscle, pumps blood throughout the body and supplies nutrients, including Oxygen.
- Smooth – Non-striated muscle supporting our organs and digestive system, keeping us functioning.
Muscles help support our bodily functions:
- Life: Our heart powers circulation of blood and the Diaphragm assists with breathing.
- Digestion: Smooth muscles in the bowel.
- Locomotion and general function lift, push, pull, work, walk and run.
- Pump Lymphatic system to cleanse the body of toxins and waste.
- Maintain strong bones.
- Protects your bones and your body in “fight or flight.”
How do you build and maintain muscle health
- Eat REAL food for recovery!
- Don’t smoke! Keep lungs, blood vessels, and nerves healthy and full of Oxygen rich blood cells.
- Does muscle weigh more than fat?
No. Fat takes up more space, but remember a pound is a pound. Thus, a pound of feathers weigh as much as a pound of bricks.
- Muscle turns into fat?
No. When you stop utilizing built up muscle mass, those muscles atrophy, but do not turn into fat.
- Do you lose muscle as you age?
Yes and no. The muscles don’t go away, but as you age you begin to lose muscle mass and function through a process known as sarcopenia – your muscles get smaller and weaker with each passing year particularly after about the mid 30’s – at the rate of about ½ to 1% per year.
As we age, it just becomes more difficult to maintain or build muscle due to the decrease in hormones, such as testosterone, as well as the slowing of other metabolic functions of our body.
Did you know?
Acute bouts of inactivity such as 10 days of bed rest in older adults can substantially reduce leg strength, reduce aerobic capacity by 12% and lead to a 7% reduction of physical activity after the bed rest programme (Kortebein et al. 2008).
Exercises for Maintaining Mobility and Muscle:
- Sit to Stand
- Make it harder by eventually choosing a lower surface
- Hold something heavy
- Wall or Counter push up
- Make it harder by gradually going more horizontal
- Move from supine to crawl position
- Perform on your bed until you feel comfortable getting up from floor
- Half kneeling
- Use support and limit to range you are comfortable with and you can control
- Lay down on floor and get back up
- ONLY do this if you know you can get back up!
- Make sure it is a smooth, controlled motion
- Lift Weights – the best way to slow down or even rebuild loss muscle strength is by lifting weights.
- As we get to ‘old age’ the formula is more repetitions with lower weights. In fact, weight lifting should be a part of everyone’s healthy lifestyle, particularly in our retirement years.
“Make muscles, not excuses.”
Author: Corey McLeod, Strive Health and Rehabilitation