Exercise is good for the health, but if your only focus is on aerobic exercise, it may not be enough. While cardiovascular fitness is a key component of good health, so too is strength training to build muscles. Muscle mass can help the body burn calories more efficiently and stay healthier for the long term.

The Importance of Muscle Mass

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Here are just a few benefits of accruing muscle mass:

  • Weight control – Muscle mass is the engine of the calorie-burning machine. As you increase strength training, you can build up your muscle mass. As you build greater muscle mass, the more efficient your calorie-burning engine will be. It is estimated that your body uses an average of 50 extra calories per day for every pound of muscle you gain.
  • Increased strength – The American College of Sports Medicine reports that by age 50, people lose about 10 percent of their muscle. At age 60 and 70, muscle declines by an additional 15 percent per decade. Beyond that, muscle drops by an added 30 percent every 10 years. Older adults can stem the tide of muscle loss. By doing strength and resistance training, they can increase their muscle bulk by threefold in roughly two to three months and compensate for age-related atrophy.
  • Reduced risk of injury – Joints are protected from injury by the surrounding muscles. As muscles decrease, joints are at greater risk. As a person ages, his sense of balance may suffer, making him susceptible to injuries, including falls that could fracture his bones. Stronger muscles provide better support, resulting in fewer injuries to the joints and bones.
  • Improved physical appearance – Not only will strength training help you feel good physically, it can help your outlook, too. When you like what you see in the mirror, it’s easier to feel good about yourself.

Start now creating a habit of strength training. Investing 15 to 30 minutes a few times a week can significantly influence your health now and long into the future.