More Muscle = More Health

Strength training with the intent of building muscle is the most health enhancing physical activity you can perform. As muscle grows stronger, all of the metabolic subsystems increase in functional capacity. And vice versa, any loss of muscle tissue results in a loss of functional capacity of all the supporting metabolic subsystems. With this information in mind, why are there so many exercise regimens that promise to NOT build muscle? I believe it's due to a lack of knowledge of muscle mass and its function.
Several health markers are under the influence of your muscle mass. These health markers include: insulin levels and insulin sensitivity, bone density, ability to burn body fat, endurance, strength, posture, resting heart rate, blood pressure, metabolic rate, joint mobility, balance, immune function, and overall stress tolerance. So yes, building and maintaining muscle is very important.

Building muscle is the closest thing to the fountain of youth that exists. As muscle goes, everything else goes with it. According to functional medicine expert Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, "Brain health is dependent on muscle health because muscle is the organ of longevity." If you exercise with the intent of enhancing health, you should do everything in your power to maintain and/or build muscle tissue.

The graph below illustrates how the loss of muscle mass is directly correlated to aging and loss of health. As muscle goes, so does your ability to function.
The graph shows how someone who participates in lifelong training(dotted curve) can minimize the decline of muscle mass and increase health span. The "Bent aging curve" represents someone who takes up strength training at around 40 years of age. The lower you are on the muscle mass scale, the less functional you are.

Graph from "Bending the Aging Curve," Joseph F. Signorile

Graph from "Bending the Aging Curve," Joseph F. Signorile

 

My advice:

  1. Engage in a well designed strength training regimen
  2. Avoid excessive endurance training
  3. Consume adequate amounts of complete protein and nutrient dense foods
  4. Get 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night
  5. Don't exercise too much; 3-4 days of intense exercise is plenty

 

Erick Minor