Importance of muscles for our overall health
Besides providing power, muscles have many functions while being the biggest tissue in our body with around 40% of total body weight. By exercising regularly and developing our muscles as well as the cardiovascular system, we improve joint mobility, prevent aging, maintain weight, support the digestive system and contribute to our emotional wellbeing.
Muscles are the makeup under our skin but the key advantage for maintaining our weight lies in the metabolism: At rest, skeletal muscle tissue consumes 54.4 kJ/kg (13.0 kcal/kg) per day, which is almost three times more than our fat or adipose tissue with 18.8 kJ/kg (4.5 kcal/kg).
On top of that, our skeletal muscle system is an endocrine organ meaning that our skeletal muscles produce and release myokines during muscle contraction which are important for muscle recovery and repair. Interestingly, myokines produced during exercise have anti-inflammatory effects and counteracts acute infections in the body. So exercise to boost your immune system!
The lifestyle to maintain and grow muscle mass
But no matter how well you are in shape right now, regular resistance exercise is key to maintain muscle mass and strength-related performance. At the age of 30, our muscle mass begins to decline (approximately 1% per year) and this phenomenon called sarcopenia accelerates the older we get (to up to 50% in our 80ies). Not only a lack of physical movement, also the wrong diet lacking sufficient protein contributes to the deterioration. Therefore, an adequate exercise routine and the right nutrition is key to compensate this process. The personal trainer, Attila Gyömrei confirms "Build your best body! It’s going to be hard, but hard does not mean impossible. Once you see results, it becomes an addiction." He takes a fun and educational approach to each workout teaching actively in Düsseldorf.
Effective exercise to boost muscle power
For strengthening our muscles, high intensity resistance training that brings our muscles to the limit proves to be the most effective. CEO Walter Vendel of the fit20 Group confirms “If performed correctly, effectively under supervision, only 20 minutes of high intensity strength training per week can be enough to produce great results. Research has shown that HIT training without supervision created the same result as not training, being none. The explanation is simple; it is almost impossible to bring yourself to your own limit, you need a 'friendly crocodile' who helps you to get that last rep done and that is the one that yields 80% of the result.” The right training improves our tissues and especially the construction of good protein structures.
Leucine- and protein-rich nutrition to support muscle growth
A diet sufficient in protein and the amino acid leucine improves muscle growth additionally. Proteins are one of the building blocks for muscle tissue being crucial for their growth and maintenance. Good plant sources include among others nuts and seeds.The essential α-amino acid leucine plays an important role in the creation and reparation of muscle cells. It is mainly found in herring, quinoa and cashew nuts.
Further, vitamin D has shown to play a part. So as the days get shorter, don’t forget to take a vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months. The EU guidelines recommend 5mg as a daily reference value.
M.S. Brook, D.J. Wilkinson, B.E. Phillips, J. Perez-Schindler, A. Philp, K. Smith, P.J. Atherton: Skeletal muscle homeostasis and plasticity in youth and ageing: impact of nutrition and exercise; Acta Physiologica, January 2016.