Exercise and Your Muscles

Posted by Blog Sunday, February 20, 2011

Good muscular function is the most obvious requirement for exercise, and enhanced muscular ability is the most obvious benefit of regular exercise. Obvious or not, there is more to your muscles than meets the eye.

Like all living tissue, muscle cells need oxygen; they get it from a rich network of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. They also need energy, which is produced by thousands of tiny factories called mitochondria. The mitochondria are packed with enzymes that convert glucose (sugar) from the blood into energy; they can also generate energy from glycogen (a starch) stored right in the muscles themselves, and they can burn fat.

Muscles improve with regular use, but the type of exercise you perform determines the type of improvement. Exercises such as walking or biking increase your muscles’ blood supply, energy stores, and mitochondrial activity. The result is better oxygen uptake and a much more efficient metabolism; you’ll recognize it as improved endurance. In contrast, exercises such as weight lifting increase the size and power of individual muscle cells, increasing the bulk and strength of your muscles.

There are two caveats. Whereas your circulation and metabolism will benefit when you use any part of your body, individual muscles improve only when they are put to work. (Walking will build up your legs but not your arms.) In addition, as muscles become stronger, they get shorter and tighter. You can overcome both problems by planning a balanced program that includes regular stretching.

More About Exercise:

Exercise, your body,and your Health

Exercise and Your Body


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