The true, universal value of exercise boils down to only one thing – your quality of life. Despite tragedies out of our control, genetic dispositions both physical and metabolic, and our society’s shared struggle to prioritize exercise above the myriad seemingly more pressing responsibilities, heedlessly trust that deprioritizing concentrated physical exertion is tantamount to forfeiting the opportunity to live your longest and most enjoyable life possible. Our functional ability and stamina depend on our physical strength – the more we have, the more we can do, and the better we will age (and the more fun we will have doing it). Put simply, use it or lose it.
As modern professional women, we do it all these days: career, family, interests, social networks, higher personal development, etc. But if meaningful exercise isn’t carved out, do know that your quality of life takes the hit. Whether that hit presents in your real-time, day-to-day living or in the ultimate cultivation of a possibly-avoidable, better managed, or even reversible genetic pre-dispositions. You will pay the opportunity cost somehow, at some time.
While we continue to be a visually oriented society, having long exercised predominately to “lose weight,” the presumption is often still that if we look good, we feel good, and as a corollary, are fit and healthy. That presumption is dead wrong, so even if just for a moment, ditch the notion of exercise having anything to do what’s attractive, and focus on your health.
More skeletal muscle, in conjunction with a balanced diet will ensure that your insulin levels remain steady and suppressed. Alternatively, high insulin triggers your stress hormones, adrenaline, and epinephrine to activate a process to metabolize large amounts of fat. Your insulin will block fat metabolism and will instead direct that sugar to be stored as fat, and the resulting body composition will put you in metabolic danger of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and sarcopenia.
Or, if you’re one of the millions of women suffering from osteoporosis (or at risk), building muscle directly increases bone density by putting increased stress on the bones, making them stronger, healthier, and less prone to fractures and breaks. Not only does increased bone density slow the devastating bone loss associated with getting older, it also helps to counteract any future loss by building additional bone matter. Your new muscle mass will also serve to protect your bones, guarding them against injury and cushioning the blow in case of a fall.
Aesthetically, well-developed back and shoulder muscles will improve posture, toned arm and leg muscles, calves too, improves appearance (and helps prevent the formation of varicose veins), pectoral muscles enhance the lift of the bust, etc. If you are after a younger looking, more vibrant feminine body, you want more muscle. And, added muscle improves our appearance with definition and helps to fight gravity, holding up our desirable body fat in the right places.
Building muscle is the best way to proactively combat the myriad problems associated with aging, supercharge the metabolism and increase cardiovascular endurance. Indeed, osteoporosis, diabetes, impaired cardiac function, weight gain due to decreasing metabolism and loss of glucose sensitivity, joint pain, loss of balance and injury, etc., can all be traced back to the fact that we lose vital muscle as we age. Logically then, one of the best things you can do to enhance your overall health and fitness now is to build muscle, whilst arresting the natural course of muscle loss that occurs as we age. Remember that our skeletal muscles serve as the engine, chassis, and shock absorbers of our bodies.