Are you keeping your muscles healthy and ready for action?

When was the last time you gave a thought about the health of your muscles? Texting, chewing, jogging, raking – every body movement you can think of is a direct result of your amazing muscles.

If you are like most Americans, the only time you think about your muscles is when you have overexerted yourself, resulting in tight and sore muscles, or maybe even a muscle strain. It is interesting how we take our muscles for granted, more specifically our skeletal muscles. Yet every movement we make is a result of specific muscles contracting and relaxing to instantly execute the bodily movement we want to perform. Each hour of the day we decide what movements to perform, this gives each of us ultimate control over whether our muscles stay healthy and ready for daily action, or not.

About half of your overall body weight is made up of the 650 muscles located throughout your body. Cardiac muscle, smooth muscle and skeletal muscle each perform critical roles. Bones cannot move on their own, they are dependent on muscles to pull them into action. Skeletal muscles work together in pairs to create movement. One muscle contracts and pulls a bone one direction, then relaxes as another muscle contracts and pulls the bone back down. Interestingly you have skeletal muscles continually working to maintain your posture, hold joints in their normal position and hold your bones in alignment. Your muscles give your body its shape and help protect it, and even absorb different stresses. As skeletal muscles move they create heat which is critical to maintaining a normal temperature. In a healthy person, muscle tone helps to keep muscles in a state of readiness. Your brain sends stimuli to the muscle tissue to stay toned in partially contracted, making them immediately ready to contract and accomplish every movement, and even many movements at once.

Being more aware of how critical healthy muscles are to your daily life and function is important for maintaining or improving one’s strength, flexibility and balance. Michigan State University Extension recommends children be active 60 minutes or more – most days and adults strive to be active 150 minutes each week. You cannot perform any physical activity without muscles being involved. However muscle tissue needs to be kept healthy through proper diet, daily use and exercise. Regular physical activity helps to strengthen muscle tissue, increasing the size of the muscle and its ability to perform efficiently and maintain during consistent use.

Muscle tone is related to the firmness of a muscle and its ability to be called into action. A sedentary lifestyle allows muscles to be less tone, losing strength and flexibility, and be more susceptible to injury. You can read practical ideas about stretching muscles and exercise at focus on stretching your muscles and bones for better health and exercise at any age.

When you perform intense or vigorous physical activity your body naturally helps the muscle groups do their work. Your heart beats quicker allowing more blood to carry oxygen and nutrients to the muscles so they can execute well. Eating healthy, nutrient dense foods in your daily food plan will nourish your muscles. During vigorous exercise your digestive system slows down, allowing your muscles to have the energy necessary for intense workouts.

Recognize the vital connection between healthy food choices and an active lifestyle and maintaining healthy muscles. Be more mindful of your muscles. Talk to your health care provider and ask for ideas to add regular stretching, flexibility and strength building movements to your daily routine.

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