By building muscle, you’re not only going to look smokin’ – you’re also going to reap the kinds of body rewards that’ll get you returning to the gym again and again. Want to know what they are?
A lit metabolism
People with more muscle mass are better able to process sugar, helping them fend off weight gain and diabetes. In other words, the more muscle you have, the more likely your next scoop of ice cream will be used as fuel rather than stored as fat.
A good night’s sleep is a trainer, therapist and nutritionist in one. It can improve your sports performance, lower your anxiety and help you consume less. Exercise may increase the quality of your shut-eye and – ironically, in a good way – decrease the time you need to spend with the Sandman. Women who did moderate or vigorous exercise (including strength training) required up to 20 minutes less sleep at night than non-exercisers to feel at the top of their game, per one study.
A stronger ticker
To understand why muscle can ward off cardiovascular disease – the number one killer of women – consider what researchers call the “obesity paradox”: obese people are at greater risk of developing heart disease (due to high blood pressure and fatty build-up in arteries); but once diagnosed, they’re much less likely to die from it, compared with their normal-BMI counterparts with heart problems. That’s probably because heavy people put on muscle mass to carry the extra weight. As the heart pumps more blood to feed the muscle, its efficiency improves. Build lean mass without fat and you’ll experience the best of both worlds, says Dr Salvatore Carbone, a heart disease researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Protection against the Big C
Of the nearly 40 percent of women who develop cancer at some point, those with low muscle mass don’t live as long. One theory why: muscle improves immunity and acts as a buffer against chemotherapy drugs. Prado’s research shows women with the most lean muscle experience fewer chemo side effects, such as severe nausea and diarrhoea, helping them power through treatment.
Fewer sick days
Lifting may prevent the common cold by increasing your production of natural killer cells, an especially aggressive type of white blood cell. And strong core muscles stabilise the spine, helping prevent the low backaches that plague up to 80 percent of people at some time.
READ MORE: The Kettlebell Row Is The One Move You Need For A Sculpted Back
As we get older, the most common and dangerous accidents are falls – mishaps that strength training can curb the risk for by 50 percent. If you do fall, the stronger bones that come from building muscle are less likely to fracture. You may not be retirement age yet, but build muscle now and you can spend your golden years focused on better things.
A steel-trap brain
Need to cement a new password in your brain? Doing just 20 minutes of resistance exercise after learning something can enhance long-term recall of the info by up to 10 percent. Talk about a fact to remember!