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Importance of Exercise on Health

Many years muscle has been associated with looking “bulky” in females and males having a “six pack” a very aesthetic and external reason for exercising and with that I believe many now shy away from exercise. Of course, if you engage in exercise for your appearance that’s completely acceptable, however outside of this there are significant health benefits to exercising that go beyond the way we look.

How muscle helps health

There are many negative associations with the depletion of lean muscle mass in humans, at the most extreme levels we see starvation and all cause mortality. Protein is in a constant state of flux within the body, and muscle is a store of the essential amino acids of protein, therefore if there is not enough essential amino acids within the body from protein and exercise performance the body breaks down muscle mass to obtain these EAA’s for metabolic functioning.

Following on from this muscle mass helps support recovery from injury, illness and surgery, improves the quality of life as we age providing better functioning of our bodies and supporting metabolic health.

Metabolic Health & Muscle Mass

With metabolic health we have a tendency to focus on body, fat and storage as the determiners of metabolic health and brush over the role of muscle mass.

Muscle mass is the biggest site of glucose disposal and exercise is an insulin independent glucose clearance.

In normal glucose clearance we see (broadly);

Eat -> Insulin Produced -> Signals Glucose Transporters GLUT-4 (take in protein from the blood) Taken into cell membrane -> Muscle Cell Surface ->Glucose used for energy or stored as “glycogen”

Insulin Resistance

With insulin resistance the Glucose transporters cannot signal from insulin so glucose accumulates in the blood as it isn’t being let into the cell membrane or muscle, impairing the ability to clear blood glucose. Therefore more glucose in the blood, the body then pumps out more insulin to try and clear but leads to insulin resistance, a very damaging cycle causing beta cells that produce insulin to fail leading to things like type 2 diabetes.

When you exercise

When you exercise this stimulates muscle which activated the glucose transporters, independent of insulin. Therefor muscle mass gives the body greater capacity to clear blood glucose, and plays into positive metabolic health outcomes. Muscle mass is the biggest site of glucose disposal.

Increasing muscle mass

We increase muscle mass through muscle hypertrophy, this is the process of increasing muscle fiber size, to do this you need to have higher levels of muscle protein synthesis and lower levels of muscle protein breakdown. Hypertrophy describes the process of of muscle fibre sizes and exercise, mainly resistance training increases the MPS & reduces the MPB.

With this there are also other factors that need to be considered;

Nutrients - Protein is very important to ensure the MPS signaling alongside the uptake of the essential amino acids to repair the muscle. Especially Leucine, the trigger of MPS at around 3g, this is found in around 20g of high quality protein..

Recovery - There must be adequate time to adapt before the next stimulus is created (law of diminishing returns)

Performance - There needs to be the stimulus to grow, therefore progression and consistency.

It's very important also if your goal is fat loss to maintain mass, a catabolic state will increase the risk of losing lean mass, therefore continuing to exercise with resistance training & eating protein will support this.

Exercise is quite literally one of the most important things you can do for your health, its impact on fat loss is very small, but its impact on wellbeing, longevity and quality of life is huge.

Heres a simple exercise routine you can do for 10 minutes;

10 Squats

10 Sit Ups

10 Press Ups

10 Lunges

Enjoy x


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