Benefits of Muscle for Women
Muscle is critical for women's health and its benefits go far beyond being your body's fat and calorie burning mechanism. Increasing muscle mass can give you a stronger immune system, increase your level of confidence, improve your energy level, reduce stress, and support healthy aging and longevity! I share a story in my weekly video of how I got started with lifting weights... funny enough, it's all about coffee! In the video I also bust some myths about weight training including: does muscle weigh more than fat?
Muscle is an organ. You read that right! Skeletal muscle makes up between 3o-40% of your total body mass. When I wanted to lose weight many years ago (read: went on yet another a diet) , it was lifting weights that made a significant change in my body composition. While "abs are made in the kitchen" as they say, adding weight and resistance training to your movement routine will benefit your health far beyond that calorie burn.
You probably know that muscle mass can help with workout performance, but what about its role in your overall health and wellness? Why is it important? Of course there could be a hundred reasons why, but let's look at 7 benefits of muscle for women:
Improved metabolism: When you increase your muscle mass, you boost your resting metabolism and that can help your body burn more calories, even at rest. Beyond that, having better muscle mass can help you recover faster from illness.
Stronger bones and decreased risk of sarcopenia: Women lose muscle mass as we age and increased muscle can support increased bone density. Milk is not the best way to support bone health and prevent osteoporosis, but maintaining muscle mass is. Sarcopenia, or age related muscle loss, begins at age 30 (yes, age 30!), and can lead to an increased risk of falls and fractures. Muscle health aging is a public health issue as it can lead to poor health outcomes in elderly individuals, especially women.
Stronger joints and supports daily activities: Stronger muscles can help you to perform daily tasks. Sometimes, there are things we do that we take for granted: carrying bags up stairs, lifting the box of groceries from Costco out of the cart (why do they pack it so full anyway!!), taking your suitcase off the baggage carousel at the airport, and so on. Imagine if you could not do those things?
Supports weight loss and weight management: As noted above, more lean muscle mass means you'll have a higher metabolic rate. I get asked a lot what is better for fat burning: cardio or weight training, and my answer every time is that weight training is a better overall body workout that will support your health. That said, the best workout or movement practice is the one you enjoy and the one you can stick with consistently.
Improves brain health and mood: Increased muscle is associated with healthier memory centers of the brain. Of course exercise is a mood booster, but weight lifting activities have been shown to improve cognitive function. Resistance training and preventing loss of muscle mass can preserve brain function and cognition.
Healthy aging and longevity: How do you want to get out of bed when you are 70? Muscle mass is hugely tied to aging and longevity. Not only for the reasons noted above related to aging, but muscle mass and exercise improves immune regulation and delays the onset of diseases of aging and chronic illness.
Confidence: I refer to this as the "I can" effect. You can do hard things, and I imagine you can do a lot more than you give yourself credit for. Lifting weights and getting stronger can give you confidence both in and out of the gym. From a personal perspective, I find being able to do more over time and showing up for myself give me that "I can" effect.
Of course, with all exercise, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise plan. One of the obstacles I hear from my clients in beginning a new exercise routine is starting and then sticking to it. If you have tried and failed before, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to set up a free discovery call with me to chat about your goals and how I may be able to support you.