Heuser Health

 

Use It or Lose It: The Importance of Building Muscle

By: Lauren Berryman

As the old adage goes, “use it or lose it.” If you do not use your muscles, you will lose them. That is why strength training is important, especially when dieting and aging.

In addition to cardiovascular exercise, strength training is necessary to develop a balanced exercise regime. Building lean muscle helps increase bone density, manage weight, decrease risk of chronic disease, and improve quality of life. 1

  

Muscles act as an “engine” that burns calories, even at rest. In fact, “for every pound of muscle you gain, your body uses about 50 extra calories a day.” 2

Many people try different diets, but dieters typically all have the same goal: to lose weight. However, it is important to remember wellness is more important than the number on the scale.

Ideally, losing weight means losing fat mass while building muscle mass. Some diets push people to lose weight quickly. However, this may cause the body to burn muscle after burning a certain amount of fat. And, losing muscle slows the body’s metabolism.

Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand when it comes to losing weight. It is important to remember to not feel defeated if the number on the scale does not decrease. It could easily mean that you are losing fat and building muscle. Eating an adequate amount of protein helps build muscle, too.

It is especially important to build muscle as you age. The American College of Sports Medicine found that “people lose about 10 percent of their muscle by age 50,” and muscle continues to atrophy after that. 3

However, this can be prevented with regular strength training. The CDC found that “muscle-building exercise can improve balance, reduce the likelihood of falls, improve blood-sugar control, and improve sleep and mental health.” 4

While both men and women lose muscle with age, postmenopausal women lose muscle more quickly and gain body fat more easily. This is due to the lack of the hormone estrogen, causing the body’s metabolism to slow down. Some women choose to undergo hormone replacement therapy, which helps prevent muscle loss post menopause.

Still, strength training is important at all ages. To name a few, it includes weight-lifting, squats and push-ups. It also includes using proper form and giving the body enough time to recover.

Alright, time to hit the gym!

 

References:

  1. “Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 23 Feb. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670.
  2. Stellner, Alison. “What Are the Benefits of Gaining Muscle Mass?” COM, Leaf Group, www.livestrong.com/article/218201-what-are-the-benefits-of-gaining-muscle-mass/.
  3. Stellner, Alison. “What Are the Benefits of Gaining Muscle Mass?” COM, Leaf Group, www.livestrong.com/article/218201-what-are-the-benefits-of-gaining-muscle-mass/.
  4. Sarnataro, Barbara Russi. “The Basics: Build Muscle for Better Health.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/build-muscle-better-health.