Importance of Muscular Strength

iComstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

In today’s society, many people seek to build strength and muscle in hopes of improving their aesthetic appeal or performing better in sports. In addition to improving the way you look and perform, however, increasing your strength and building muscle can have many positive impacts on your overall health and wellbeing.

Obesity Prevention

One major health benefit caused by increasing muscular strength is the significantly decreased risk of obesity. Obesity is a disease of excess energy accumulation and is caused by taking in more calories than you burn. Of the calories you burn, the vast majority are those burned at rest -- a process called your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. The BMR varies immensely between people, depending on the amount of lean body mass a person has. Research in 2002 described in the “The American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism” has shown that increasing muscle via testosterone injection, even in the absence of exercise, can substantially reduce body fat due to the increase in BMR.

Diabetes Prevention

Another major disease that increased muscular strength can help prevent is diabetes. Diabetes is a disease caused by excessive insulin resistance, and 1992 research in the journal “Diabetes Care” clearly shows that disruption of the normal rate of muscle glucose uptake is central to developing insulin resistance and eventually diabetes. Fortunately, however, research in 2007 in “The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism” has clearly shown that building muscle is one of the best ways to ensure proper glucose uptake and thus prevent diabetes.

Osteoporosis and Sarcopenia Prevention

Osteoporosis and sarcopenia are both diseases that can affect you as you age and are characterized by severe losses in bone mineral density and muscle. Fortunately, however, research in 1997 in the “Journal of Bone and Mineral Research” and in 1995 in “The Journals of Gerontology” have shown that the risk of these diseases can be greatly prevented through regular strength workouts.

Reduced Risk of Dying from Cancer or Cardiac Failure

Increasing strength and building muscle can be essential for those who suffer from cancer or cardiac failure. During times of significant stress, such as during these diseases, amino-acid requirements are significantly higher, and having enough muscle mass is essential for meeting these needs. Research in 2000 in the “Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences” and in 1999 in the journal "Chest" has shown that a person's quantity of muscle mass is one of the greatest factors affecting likelihood of survival from these diseases.