Beyond Aesthetics: The Profound Benefits of Developing Muscle

Beyond Aesthetics: The Profound Benefits of Developing Muscle

Meta Description: Why building muscle is important not only for athletes, but for anyone interested in optimizing their health and well being. 

Beyond Aesthetics: The Profound Benefits of Developing Muscle 

Fitness trainer next to trainee

The development of skeletal muscle mass and strength are common goals amongst athletes and those looking to develop a muscular physique. It’s well established that greater muscular strength and lean mass are strongly associated with improved overall sports performance and can enhance the ability to perform skills such as jumping, sprinting, and agility tasks (1-3).

But, beyond the performance and aesthetic benefits, there is a growing amount of evidence that building and maintaining muscle is also crucial for enhancing overall health and well being. That’s because skeletal muscle – which makes up, on average, 40% of body weight in adults – is a dynamic and metabolically active tissue, affecting whole-body processes above simply generating force and movement. Here, we’ll look at some of the scientifically-proven benefits of building lean muscle tissue, demonstrating why anyone interested in maintaining optimal health should consider incorporating some form of resistance training into their exercise regimen. 

Glucose metabolism

After eating, blood glucose levels increase, and the body produces insulin to help shuttle glucose from the blood into various tissues where it can be stored or used as energy. Since skeletal muscle accounts for almost 80% of glucose uptake in a healthy adult, the development of muscle mass enhances the body's ability to efficiently utilize glucose, reducing the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (4-6).  

Aids in reducing body fat

Sporty woman with dark hair lifts weight points index finger

Traditionally, alongside calorie restriction, aerobic exercise was promoted as the main exercise component for weight loss, but incorporating resistance training has now been shown to reduce body fat percentage more effectively. That’s because resistance training can help preserve or even grow lean muscle mass, which is highly metabolically active – meaning it requires a lot of energy for maintenance, even at rest. For this reason, resistance training has also been shown to maintain long-term reductions in body fat in obese patients (7,8).

Enhances bone health

In large reviews, greater lean muscle mass has been associated with improved bone mineral density, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis later in life. This is likely due to the mechanical stress placed on bones during resistance training which stimulates bone remodeling, fortifying the skeletal system. The bone health benefits of increasing muscle strength through resistance training are seen in both the young and the elderly (9-12).

Supports healthy aging

Fit senior man runnon on the beach.

In the elderly, maintaining muscle mass leads to improved health, independence, functionality, and overall quality of life. On top of this, greater muscular strength and mass through resistance training significantly improves the control of known cardiovascular disease risk factors and reduces the risk of all-cause death and cardiovascular mortality. In this sense, maintaining healthy muscle mass throughout life and in later years can improve both lifespan and, perhaps more importantly, healthspan – the number of years spent in good health (13-17).

Supports mental health

Regular exercise, of any form, has profound effects on mental health. The release of endorphins during physical activity is associated with improved mood, reduced stress, and a lower risk of mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. But specifically developing muscular strength has also been linked with significant reductions in depression and anxiety scores, possibly through resulting improvements in physical function (18,19). 

Strength training is for everyone

Resistance training is obviously a must for anyone looking to gain muscle to improve sport performance or achieve a muscular appearance. But the development of lean muscle mass and strength should be considered as a key component toward optimizing health too, because – beyond the aesthetic appeal of a sculpted physique – the functional and metabolic health benefits of muscle development are profound. Incorporating a balanced fitness routine that includes some form of resistance training and overall muscle engagement is crucial for anyone interested in improving overall health and longevity. 

yoga teacher teaching a group of people at the park


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