From the gym devotee who bench presses 300 pounds to those of us who can only bench the bar (holla!), humans come in a variety of athletic abilities. But it doesn’t really matter where you land on the spectrum: Strength and flexibility play roles in everyone’s health. In fact, they matter in ways you might not yet realize.
The Benefits of Strength
First, let’s look at strength, specifically muscle mass; the benefits are practically limitless. Not only does an increase in mass facilitate a higher metabolic rate (resulting in a faster calorie burn), but it also boosts the immune system, helps the body recover from injuries, and improves the oxidative capacity of muscles. It even directly impacts longevity by fending off heart disease and supporting cardiovascular wellness.
Muscle mass offers emotional benefits too, and not just because you can admire yourself while flexing in front of the mirror. Muscles help increase confidence, reduce stress, and hone resilience. In fact, muscles help the body center, finding harmony and balance rather than tension. That’s right: Outer strength translates to inner strength.
The Benefits of Flexibility
Flexibility, not to be overshadowed by strength, also comes packaged with hidden benefits. Flexibility is so instrumental to health that it’s like grease on the wheels, allowing many systems to flow more freely.
To start, it enhances circulation, resulting in increased blood flow to all areas of the body, especially the ones in need of help (such as a sprained ankle or a burnt hand). Circulation transports antibodies and endorphins (feel-good chemicals) too. The former helps you heal from illness (while warding off other things) as the latter impacts your emotions.
Flexibility buoys your mental state in other ways, particularly in the area of relaxation. See for yourself – next time you’re tense, take fifteen minutes to stretch out. You should feel better afterwards.
Improving Strength and Flexibility
Now that you know strength and flexibility offer benefits you might not have ever considered, how do you make sure you take advantage? Before you vow to become a gym rat or secretly consider steroids, there is one simple way to reap the benefits of these two important aspects. So roll out your mat and become one with downward
Yoga offers all kinds of positives, including adding muscle and making your body more flexible. Give it a try. You just might be a buff version of Gumby before you know it!