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October 2014

Strength-The New Vital Sign of Personal Health

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Last year at this time I wrote about strength as the new vital sign of your personal health. A few of the advantages of maintaining a healthy and strong muscle mass are as follows:

  • Helps to maintain or even achieve a healthy body weight
  • Allows individuals to be functional no matter what their age – climbing stairs, getting out of a chair, lifting and carrying bags of groceries
  • Protects the joints from injury
  • Allows more functionality for those individuals with arthritic conditions
  • Protects the bones and greatly reduces the probability of osteoporosis in both women and men
  • Healthy muscle mass means you are a physically active individual which leads to numerous health benefits

The benefits of a healthy muscle mass are tremendous. Why would you not want a healthy muscle mass? We all age every day and as we do muscle becomes even more important. As part of the aging process we lose about 30% of our muscle mass from age 30 to age 55. After age 55 it can steadily get worse, but loss of muscle mass does not need to happen. If you work to keep or increase your muscle mass through a variety of physical activities, the loss of muscle will be greatly reduced to about 5%.

Muscle as a health risk factor does not get much attention because the loss of muscle is not necessarily life threatening. You won’t die from lack of muscle but you just won’t be able to move! And once you’ve lost muscle mass you have entered into a vicious  life cycle which is very unhealthy. Those individuals who are physically inactive are less healthy than those individuals who are physically active.

Muscular strength is a health risk factor that is relatively simple to improve. Start small and add simple strength building activities to your daily routine that improve your strength such as basic calisthenics, like push-ups, or simple weight lifting exercises like biceps curls, chest presses or even squats.

A year is a long time and lack of physical activity during that year will act as a catalyst to losing muscle- not a wise or healthy choice. Don’t let another year go by without focusing on achieving a healthy muscle mass and building a stronger, healthier you!

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