Fitness: 6 Reasons Why Muscles Matter

You run, cycle and step – you’ve really got this fitness thing down. Or do you? When was the last time you really concentrated on improving your strength? Cardio counts, but muscles matter too. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends performing at least one set of eight to ten resistance exercises for all major muscle groups two to three times per week.

If strength training isn’t part of your regular fitness routine, it isn’t too late to add this important activity to your program. Here are six reasons why building muscle is a priority.

1. IMPROVES FUNCTIONAL FITNESS

How Many Calories Burned During Exercise 300x300 Fitness: 6 Reasons Why Muscles Matter

Fitness: 6 Reasons Why Muscles Matter

Stronger muscles make everyday efforts easier and less tiring. Like toting grocery bags from the car to the kitchen or picking up a child. Many older adults who weight train report a greater ability to perform the daily tasks necessary for independent living.

2. REDUCES THE RISK OF INJURY, INCLUDING BACK PAIN

Strength training is an important part of injury prevention. The stronger your muscles, the more resilient they’ll be. And working the abdominals and back for strength and stabilization has been shown to diminish the incidence and severity of low back pain.

3. HEIGHTENS SPORTS PERFORMANCE

Research suggests that regular strength training improves athletic performance – plus it decreases your risk of getting injured during a game. If you want to pack some power into your tennis serve or run faster down the field for a goal, hit the weight room.

4. HELPS WITH WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

Building muscle increases your resting metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day. And toning up can help you lose fat, says a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Researchers put previously untrained women on a weight training program twice a week for 12 weeks. The women increased muscular strength and decreased body fat percentage. And they did it without restricting food intake.

5. PROMOTES BONE HEALTH

Weight bearing activities like lifting weights, running and walking increase bone density. For women in particular, regular resistance training is important because it helps prevent osteoporosis.

6. FOSTERS WELL-BEING

Feeling physically stronger can make you feel emotionally stronger as well. Studies show that subjects who begin a regular weight-lifting routine report higher self-esteem and less depression and anxiety than before they started pumping iron.

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