How To Keep Your Muscular System Healthy
Your muscular system consists of hundreds of muscles--from the very large gluteus maximus muscle, or your butt, to the very small muscles that control your fingers. Your muscular system is responsible for movements such as walking, lifting or running and holding your body in postural alignment. Muscles have a good blood supply, are red in color and respond well to the stresses placed upon them. One such stress is exercise. By working out regularly and eating a balanced diet, you can keep your muscular system in tip-top shape.
Work out with weights. Strength training, sometimes called weight training or resistance training, will improve your muscular strength and endurance. Perform two to three whole-body workouts per week on non-consecutive days to get the most from your training. You can work out by using resistance machines, dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands or body weight exercises--all of which are effective for improving the condition of your muscular system.
For every pushing exercise, perform a pulling exercise. Your muscles are arranged in pairs on opposite sides of your joints--for example, your biceps and triceps oppose each other across your elbows. Exercise each muscle equally to ensure you do not develop any potentially injurious muscle imbalances.
Change your workout every six to eight weeks. Once your muscles have become accustomed to a particular workout, that workout ceases to be as effective. Change the exercises, weights, sets and reps regularly so that your progress does not grind to a halt.
Stretch your muscles often. Your muscles need to be stretched regularly to keep them in good shape. Stretch all of your major muscles at least after each workout and preferably every day. Muscles often tighten between after exercises, as a result of sitting for long periods and as part of the aging process. Stretching will lengthen your muscles and prevent exercise- and age-related shortening. Stretch your muscles gently, holding each stretch for 30 seconds or more. You might also consider a yoga class, which involves a lot of stretching.
Eat a balanced diet. Your muscles need vitamins, minerals, water, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats so that they can function at their best. Eat a diet rich in natural whole foods such as fruit, vegetables and grains to ensure you are getting adequate nutrients to keep your muscles in good shape. Your muscles are made up of around 70 percent water so make sure you drink at least eight tall glasses of water a day to stay well hydrated.
If you are new to working out, start gradually and build up slowly. Get professional help in designing a resistance training program. Always warm up before any kind of strenuous exercise.
Always work within your limitations. If your workout hurts, you may be doing more harm than good.
- "ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2009
- "You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises for Men and Women"; Mark Lauren; 2010
- "Stretching"; Bob Anderson and Jean Anderson; 2010
- muscles image by Inhumane Productions from Fotolia.com