Attention men and women! That muscle you’ve been building, you know the stuff- it’s showing up under tee-shirts as bulging biceps and your legs look amazing this summer in shorts and skirts. But did you know your muscle is doing more than making you look good; it’s actually helping you live a longer and healthier life. That’s right; you’ll look great and for an incredibly long time!
According to an article in The American Journal of Medicine, “Muscle Mass Index as a Predictor of Longevity in Older Adults”, muscle mass is inversely related to mortality, i.e. as muscle mass on the body gets larger the death rate gets further from the average for men and women. This muscle mass supporting a longer life is due to a smaller amount of fat on the body. Excess fat on the body, instead of muscle, leads to many different diseases like; heart disease, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high blood sugar and more which can contribute to an early death.
Another point in the article were the anabolic processes that build muscle; the literal building of muscle has many nuances behind it, and all are beneficial to a longer life. Anabolically building muscle requires increased energy (from the food you eat), requires increased respiration-oxygen intake, requires the up-regulation of insulin (keeping it out of the blood stream reduces diseases) and stimulates protein synthesis. Building muscles, when you exercise using cardio or free weights, keeps the body healthy by allowing the body to function at a cellular high level.
Muscle mass on the body also increases longevity by providing the body with a protein reserve to fight illnesses and fight through them. Protein is stored as muscle and as you age your protein needs increase; amino acids are used to fight infections, help wounds heal and keep the immune system strong. When you age, becoming sick can cause serious decreases in your energy stores. When there isn’t excess protein in the body (in muscle mass) the chances of recovering from illnesses quickly grows smaller.
Do your body a favor and pack on the muscle! In your early years you’ll look great and feel amazing and in your later years you’ll reap the benefits of strong muscle cells protecting the body. Hit the free weights or weight machines and squat, lift and curl your way into better health.
Preethi Srikanthan, MD, MSemail, Arun S. Karlamangla, MD, PhD. The American Journal of Medicine. Mass Index As a Predictor of Longevity in Older Adults. Volume 127, Issue 6, Pages 547–553, June 2014