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Muscle Mass and Heart Health

muscle mass can improve heart health

Most people consider cardio exercises such as running and biking to be the best way to keep your heart healthy, but you may want to consider pumping some iron the next time you hit the gym to support your heart health. Studies have shown that individuals with high muscle mass have a decreased risk of experiencing a number of heart conditions, including heart attack and heart failure, in comparison to those with a lower muscle mass. Multiple lifestyle factors contribute to muscle mass, including physical activity and diet.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends strength training at least twice per week. Strength training includes using free weights, body weight or resistance bands to target specific muscle groups. This type of exercise helps maintain and increase muscle density. Lean muscle mass can help control weight by increasing the amount of calories burned at rest.

What’s on your plate can also impact your lean body mass. Protein consumption is essential for preserving and building muscle mass. Protein is found in many sources other than meat, including low-fat dairy products, nuts, beans, eggs and whole grains. Protein is not the only nutrient that will keep you strong. Dietary carbohydrates and fat are also necessary for muscle mass to provide energy to the muscles both during and after strength training. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and foods high in unsaturated fats such as avocados and nuts are beneficial to muscular stability.

Aging adults may find it more difficult to build and maintain lean body mass than younger adults, but do not get discouraged. A healthy diet and physical activity routine will work together to increase muscle strength and decrease the risk of poor heart health.

Written by: Leslie Lewis, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern


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