More muscle helps with overall health

Piotr Leniart

For the most people outside the gym, the word "muscles" brings to mind image of big bodybuilders. The importance of muscle mass, strength, and metabolic function in the performance of exercise and sports, has never been questioned. However, muscles aren't just for show. Here I will explain why.


Role of muscle in chronic disease

Chronic diseases related to poor lifestyle behaviours and alterations in muscle. Heart disease and cancer are the major chronic diseases suffered in the western world, and both cardiac failure and cancer are often associated with rapid and extensive loss of muscle mass, strength, and metabolic function. Another chronic condition that caused by muscle loss is sarcopenia, which is a progressive loss of muscle mass and function that occurs with aging and causes frailty. Sarcopenia is a widespread syndrome that has a devastating effect on quality of life, activities of daily living and ultimately survival. Muscle loss isn't just negative for the elderly, is also occurs in younger people, and is then called myopenia. Exercise training has been proven to be beneficial in chronic diseases and conditions that cause, or are caused by, muscle wasting.

All types of muscle cells - infographic
All types of muscle cells - infographic

Role of muscle in the body's metabolism

Skeletal muscle is the most abundant tissue in the human body, and maintenance of its mass is essential to ensure basic function as locomotion, strength and respiration. In order for us to survive, certain tissues and organs, like the brain, heart, liver and skin, need to maintain their protein content. These essential tissues and organs rely on a steady supply of amino acids via the blood to serve as precursors for the synthesis of new proteins to balance the persistent rate of protein breakdown that occurs in all tissues. The primary fate of ingested amino acids is incorporation into muscle protein to replete the reserves of amino acids lost in the fasting state. Under normal conditions, gains in muscle protein mass in the fed state balance the loss of muscle protein mass in the fasted state. The ability of muscle protein breakdown to maintain plasma amino acid concentrations is remarkable, provided adequate muscle mass is available.

Role of muscle in the prevention of obesity

The development of obesity results from an energy imbalance over a prolonged time, which means that energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. An effect on energy balance can therefore be achieved by altering either energy intake or energy expenditure. In our diet focused society, the energy intake side of the energy balance equation gets almost all the attention. This is unfortunate since variations in our energy expenditure are at least as important. After all, it is called "energy balance" which means that both sides need to be balanced at a healthy level. Just cutting back on our caloric intake will not put our energy balance at a healthy level. Instead it will just cause deprivation and frustration. Our muscle mass, and the energy expenditure related to muscle metabolism, affects both resting and activity energy expenditure. The energy expenditure caused by physical activity is obvious; the more muscle we have, the higher workloads we can move, and the more calories we'll expend. However, the energy expenditure caused by our metabolism can be quite significant too if we have an enlarged muscle mass.

When your friends and family members start complaining about your high protein intake and passion for training and growing muscle. Share with them this article and enjoy your day.

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