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Why building muscle is important

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We all know that exercise is good for us but we often overlook how important it is to build and maintain muscle.

Strength training is just as important as maintaining good cardiovascular health. There are several reasons why we should be concerned about keeping muscle mass and ways in which we can do so.

For instance, by age 40, lean mass decreases about eight per cent per decade until age 70, at which time lean mass loss accelerates to 15 per cent per decade. This means if you are not strength training to keep your muscle mass, then you run the risk of some serious issues as you age.

More muscle mass means stronger bones. The body must consistently be stimulated with outside resistance to maximize bone density. Like muscles, when bones don’t encounter heavy resistance, their density decreases.

Other reasons to strength train are the more muscle you have the stronger you are. This means you will be able to perform everyday activities like carrying your groceries with greater ease.

There is also a greater, positive impact on us psychologically when we feel strong. Feeling strong makes us feel more confident.

Building muscle often means building self esteem. When we have more muscle mass we also increase our body’s capability of burning fat and using the food we take in efficiently, increasing your metabolism essentially and reducing your fat stores. More muscle mass=less fat.

Gone are the days where building muscle was just for men. Now, having lean muscle mass is a common goal for many women as it should be.

Statistically speaking, more women have osteoarthritis, especially in the hip, than men; therefore, it is extremely important for women to be strength training. In recent years, we have seen a huge increase in the ways in which people train.

Now more and more people are training like athletes. Their main goals are gaining muscle mass, building cardio endurance and staying in peak physical condition so that as they age they do so with less risk of illness and disease. Building muscle mass is not just for the young. Even if you are well into your golden years, building muscle is still possible; furthermore, it should be a priority.

There are many ways in which you can increase your muscle mass. Lifting weights is one, so is increasing the level of difficulty in everyday activities like walking.

Putting a weight in your backpack on your next walk is a great way to increase the load you usually are under. If you do this, however, greater care must go into strengthening your abdominal muscles so that your lower back does not take the brunt of the load.

Free sessions are being held throughout May on Wednesday evenings at the Chemainus Secondary School track so you can give strength training exercises a try. Happy strength training.

(Nicole Cournoyer is the general manager of Anytime Fitness in Chemainus).

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