The hidden health benefits of muscle

No one needs to tell you that strong muscles help you spin faster, run farther, or plank longer. But your muscles do a lot more than keep you fast and fit. For example, your heart is made of muscle tissue, which may explain why strong people have better heart health. As it turns out, that’s only the beginning. According to the latest research, healthy muscles are good for your body And Your brain.

Mental muscles are real

Your muscles are the largest organs in your body, comprising about 40 percent of your total weight. Now, we’re learning they can keep your mind sharp, too. a new one JAMA Network Open A study of 8,279 people between the ages of 45 and 85 found that those with less muscle mass were more likely to have a decline in executive function. If you haven’t heard of executive function, it’s the ability to pay attention, solve problems, and make decisions. So when it stagnates, planning, motivating, and organizing basic activities like paying bills or grocery shopping can become challenging.

Where does muscle come from? “Although we often think of our muscles as useful for movement, they also have the ability to secrete substances known as myokines,” explains Ann-Julie Tessier, RD, PhD, research fellow at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Author of the study. “Some of this can travel to the brain and affect it.” Muscle may not be the only way it keeps you smarter. “It’s also possible that people with higher muscle mass exercise more and have better blood flow to the body, including the brain,” Tessier adds.

Muscles also have other amazing health benefits. Here are 5 additional ways your muscles take good care of you and tips to keep them happy and healthy.

A fast metabolism. Muscle is needed a lot of energy, even at rest. This is why someone who is ripped burns more calories than someone of the same size who is not. If you want to restore your calories, hit the weights. According to a European Journal of Clinical Nutrition Studies have shown that 9 months of resistance training can increase a person’s resting metabolic rate by about 5 percent.

Improve blood sugar. Your muscles are constantly collecting glucose from the bloodstream for fuel. The result? “Maintaining a healthy muscle mass can improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of developing diabetes,” says Wesley McWhorter, MS, RDN, DrPh, CSCS, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. “And the more active we are, the more sensitive our muscles are to insulin, which means less insulin is needed to lower your blood sugar.”

hard bones What does size have to do with bone health? “The principle of deterrence applies here,” McWhorter said. “When you build muscle, it puts pressure on the bones, and as a result, the bones get stronger.” You probably already know that calcium can help improve your bones. But they also need protein to harness the muscle’s bone-strengthening abilities. A good daily goal is 0.4 to 0.7 grams of protein for every pound of your body weight.

Speedy recovery from illness or surgery. When you’re going under the knife or struggling with a chronic illness or injury, your muscles may be the last thing on your mind. However, bulking up can help you bounce back faster. For example, trauma patients with less muscle mass may be 9 times more likely to commit suicide than trauma patients with the most muscle tissue.

A ripe old age. Big biceps may look impressive, but strong biceps can help you live longer. In a recent study of 4,449 adults over age 50, people with the weakest muscles were more than twice as likely to die from any cause as those with the most muscle strength. If you’re nowhere near 50, this may not seem relevant. But after age 30, we begin to lose 3 to 5 percent of our muscle mass per decade. So, it’s never too early to start building your reservoir!

What else can you do to make more brownies? Move as much as you can, both in the gym and outside. Gardening, dancing, swimming—they all count, McWhorter says. “Ultimately, the most important thing is to move frequently and consistently,” he says.

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