8 Reasons Why Muscle Strength Is So Sexyby Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer
If you are a senior then you probably remember posters in the gym of young men flexing their muscles and demonstrating their sex appeal. These days, muscles are sexy on women as well as on men. They are especially attractive as we age. But their benefits go beyond looks. Here are the most important reasons to build muscle strength, plus a few tips to help you get started on a safe and effective fitness plan.
As you age, a fall could put you at serious risk of injury or long-term disability. According to the Mayo Clinic, falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. Adding muscle and therefore strength can increase your stability and allow you to catch yourself if you do begin to lose your balance.
Reflecting good nutrition
In order to build muscles, you need to put stress on them, get adequate rest, and eat nutritious foods. If you see an older person who is strong and healthy, there is an excellent chance that his or her diet is right on point.
Making everyday tasks easier
Life requires movement, whatever your age. Tasks that seemed easy when you were younger can become increasingly difficult as you age. For example, just retaining the ability to rise up from and get out of a chair can make the difference between living independently or not. Reaching for dishes or other items above your head can become impossible if you do not make an effort to keep your shoulders and biceps strong.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is a proven fact that strength training gives you more energy. Although it can seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to beat fatigue is to exercise more. The workout required to build muscles also releases endorphins, which are morphine-like chemicals that help trigger positive feelings. Lifting weights also improves heart health, which will give you increased energy throughout the day.
According to the Mayo Clinic, strength training can help you lose weight by amping up your metabolism and helping you burn more calories. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissues, even at rest.
Reducing arthritis flares
According to the Arthritis Foundation, building muscle strength offers numerous benefits to people with arthritis pain. When scientists reviewed eight different studies, they found that strength training was beneficial to older people with osteoarthritis. Older adults in the strength-training groups had significant improvements in strength and function and reductions in pain.
Alleviating back pain
Lower back pain is a common complaint for seniors. Done properly, strength training can tone muscles throughout the core of your body, reducing stress on your spine. Reducing the stress on your spine and balancing the muscles in your back can help alleviate back pain.
Increasing bone density
The saying “use it or lose it” is true when it comes to bone density. Part of the natural aging process involves bone deterioration. As we age we also don't make as much bone as we did when we were younger, so it becomes double trouble. The result is that fractures can happen more easily. While exercise in general can improve bone density, weight- bearing exercises such as weight lifting have been shown in a 2014 osteoporosis study, to have the greatest effect.
Coming up with a plan
There are a multitude of ways to increase your muscle strength. Finding activities that you enjoy and that will fit your lifestyle will be critical to success. Not all strength training requires hours and hours in the gym. Lifting soup cans or using your body as resistance in calisthenics such as pushups and sit-ups can be just as effective. Being consistent with your efforts by exercising two to three times a week is key.
The three-step plan from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes a 12-week workbook, will help get you started. However, before you embark on your fitness journey, ask your doctor if there is anything special you should consider based on your unique health needs. It may also be beneficial to work with a physical therapist or certified trainer at the beginning of your strength-training program for instruction on proper technique.