While you know exercise is good for you, you may not know the importance of building muscle through strength training. If your workouts only focus on aerobic exercise, you're missing a key component of overall fitness. Gaining muscle mass offers plenty of benefits for everyone. Strength training increases lean muscle mass, which helps your body burn calories more efficiently and improves your quality of life.
As far as metabolism goes, muscle mass is the "engine" of the calorie-burning machine. As you strength train and increase your muscle mass, you build a bigger, more efficient engine that burns more calories and helps you lose weight. The more toned your muscles, the easier it is to maintain your weight. In fact, the higher your muscle mass, the more calories you'll burn when you rest. For every pound of muscle you gain, your body uses about 50 extra calories a day.
People lose about 10 percent of their muscle by age 50, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. By the time you reach your 60s and 70s, your muscle strength will decrease by about 15 percent per decade -- and about 30 percent thereafter. However, older adults who perform adequate strength and resistance training can increase their strength as much as threefold within two to three months. Increasing your strength will help you lead a more active lifestyle infused with spontaneous activity.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Building muscle also helps protect your joints from injury. As you age, balance may become an issue that can lead to fractured hip bones or other injuries related to falls. Stronger muscles help support your joints -- this can help you lead a more independent lifestyle as you age.
Increased muscle mass makes you stronger so you'll have more stamina when you perform physical activities. As you become more active, your quality of life most likely will improve. Stronger muscles also counteract the side effects of weak muscles, which may cause instability and structural pain. Strong, toned muscles also enhance your appearance, boost your self-esteem and make you feel better overall.
- Exercise Physiology, Energy, Nutrition & Human Performance; William McArdle, et al.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Exercise and the Older Adult
- Weight Loss Resources: Burning Calories