Are you strong? I don't mean are you emotionally tough and can take on the hard facts of life. I simply mean do you have lots of muscle? Why do I care about muscles? Plenty of reasons the more muscle you have, the healthier you can be, the more trim your body appears, the stronger you are in all areas of your life, and the slower your body ages.
The Importance of Strength
In this world of body images, we're very caught up in thin and fat. But there is more to it than the amount of visible fat on a body. It's what's under that fat that matters. A thin person with almost no muscle is just as unhealthy as an overweight person with lots of solid muscle. In fact, check with a doctor you might not be overweight at all if you have lots of muscle. Muscle weights way more than fat does.
Oversimplified, muscle lets you move by pulling on your bones in just the right way, and the more muscle you have, the more balance and stamina you have. Wimpy isn't just a frame of mind, you know. Muscle keeps your body moving easily and well. It also helps you stand up straight and carry yourself well as you can move more smoothly and you've trained your body to be at a high level of fitness. This high level of fitness also keeps your body from aging quickly with enough muscle, you'll be going strong when your friends start to complain about aches and pains in another two decades or so.
Muscle also helps to burn off more calories during the day helping to keep your body trim, just by sitting around. Muscle also helps to give your body a toned appearance, so that even if you're thicker around the middle, you still look defined. If you happen to be pretty thin around the middle, muscle tone can make you seem more slim and trim than skinny, if you know what I mean.
One of the biggest rumors is that muscle will make you look big and bulky rather than slim. If you buy into this rumor, what you're failing to recognize is that some of the thinnest people in the world work out on weights all the time to keep their bodies trim. Doing exercises like running and the elliptical machine will burn lots of calories which makes you lose weight, but only building muscle can change your total appearance. Just think, nobody on the red carpet has thin, jiggly arms those arms are ripped.
How Do I Build Muscle?
If you're worried that you don't have enough muscle or you want to make an effort to build even more, it's simple enough to do so. You simply have to work against resistance. What that means is you need to do something that uses your current muscles in a big way. For example, walking on a flat sidewalk doesn't do much for muscle building. But hiking up a steep hill really gets those muscles moving and you can feel it the next day in your legs and backside.
You can create resistance by working with free weights, weight machines or just by using your own body. Do ten push-ups a night to work out that upper body. Increase the number as the pushups get easier to do. Squats and lunges (sitting in place and taking large, dipping steps) help to work out your lower body. And you don't need any special equipment for either.
If you're taking a gym class at school or are a member of a sports gym, ask the coach or trainer what options are available to build muscle. It might be a sport you haven't tried, like swimming or biking, or it might so something as simple as boosting that treadmill up to a serious incline.