All of us have a basic idea of what muscle is – that's where we feel the burn during indoor cycling classes and other workouts! We know our muscles lift the groceries, get us up the stairs, and make it possible for us to breathe among many, many other things.
But in addition to becoming stronger through exercise, what roles do our muscles play in our overall health and fitness?
To get to the bottom of this question it helps to have a better understanding of exactly what muscles are and do. As this article on sports fitness advisor explains, “Every one of the body's 430 skeletal muscles consists of muscle tissue, connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels. A fibrous fascia called the epimysium covers each muscle and tendon. Tendons connect the muscle belly to bone and they attach to the bone periosteum - more connective tissue that covers all bones. Contraction of the muscle belly pulls on the tendon and in turn, the bone it is attached to.”
Our muscles contract through the action of protein filaments that slide past one another. In addition to allowing us to move, lift, and breathe, our muscles are also responsible for maintaining our posture. Keeping our muscles exercised and healthy, then, is one of the keys to maintaining the health of our spine. (Not to mention that the heart is itself a muscle!)
Muscles are also important because they help us burn fat, even when we're not doing indoor cycling or other exercises. In fact, every pound of muscle on your body burns seven-ten calories a day even when you're sedentary. Meanwhile, that same pound of fat burns only two-three calories.
In other words, muscle really carries its own weight -- and then some.
The other important fact about muscle is that it is much more dense than fat. A pound of fat and a pound of muscle weigh the same: one pound. But that pound of muscle takes up much less room than the pound of fat. This is important in part because some people become discouraged when, particularly during the first several weeks of a workout program, they don't see much of a change in their weight.
In fact, some of us even gain weight when we start working out, particularly when doing something like indoor cycling that builds muscle. However, what is also true is that, because muscle is less dense than fat, we're going to see a (wonderful) difference in the way our clothing fits well before we see much sign of movement on the scale.
Experts tell us that strength training is every bit as important as cardio exercise to improve our overall health and fitness. This is a big part of why RydeOn!'s indoor cycling classes are such a great workout – in addition to getting the heart muscle pumping, indoor cycling works the arm, trunk, and (especially) the leg muscles at the same time. It's like getting two workouts in one!
That's the skinny (literally!) on the relationship between our muscles and our health and fitness. If you're ready to start building all of your muscles while also getting a great cardio workout, just click here to schedule your next RydeOn! indoor cycling class.