We have touched on the effects of exercise upon joints previously so let’s have a closer look at our muscular system and how exercise can benefit it tremendously. Muscle derived its name from the Latin musculus which literary means “little mouse” because when the muscle contracts, it resembles a little mouse moving under the skin. Muscles enable your body to move, breathe and pump blood & oxygen to the vital organs. You even need it to ease your bladder and bowels. Hence the muscular system is very complex.


There are 3 types of muscular tissues and each muscle is made up of thousands of small musculus fibers. Each muscle fiber is commanded by a nerve and how strong a muscle is depends on how many fibers it has. The 3 types are cardiac muscles which make up the heart; smooth muscles which align our stomach, intestines, bowels, blood vessels and hollow organs; and skeletal muscles which are connected to bones via tendons.


Smooth and cardiac muscles are activated automatically while skeletal muscles are voluntary and controlled by the brain to walk, speak, etc. They also give our bodies their shapes. Cardiac and skeletal muscles consist of thousands of sarcomeres or muscle units and are therefore known as striated muscles. Medical experts say there are about 650 skeletal muscles in our body. In fact, there is no definitive number because some single muscles are actually groups of muscles. Hence estimates on the number of muscles vary from 650-850.


Various types of exercise affect the muscles in various ways. Firstly, there are anaerobic and aerobic exercises. Take for instance intense but short exercise such as when you do weight-lifting or sprint run. These use fast-twitch muscle fibers and are called anaerobic - which means they use up oxygen faster than the body can deliver. Lactic acid is a by-product of this action and it is what causes muscle soreness. Exercise that is less intense and more lasting is called aerobic. Examples of these are walking, jogging, lap swimming and pace cycling.


All exercise come under 2 main categories. These are endurance and resistance exercises. With endurance exercise, muscles are trained to last longer before tiring. Usually the muscles don’t get larger but become stronger, leaner and more efficient. Resistance exercise is also called strength training. Weight training and body-building are two prime examples of resistance training. They contract the muscles powerfully which causes mycrotrauma (muscle tear). This causes rebuilding of individual fibers and eventually, growth of entire muscles.   


Muscles are principally powered by oxidation of carbohydrates and fats. Anaerobic chemical reactions are used by the fast-twitch fibers for speed and quick muscular reaction. The chemicals produce adenosine triphosphate which is commonly known as ATP. Hypertrophy is a condition when a muscle cell increases in size through growth while atrophy is a condition when a muscle shrinks due to injury or lack of use.


Muscles need to be exercised – including some strength training, to keep it in good and summoning shape. Muscles constitute more than half our body weight and are a principal part of our physical self. Stronger muscles improve our reflexes and balance. They support good posture and create a reliable defensive buffer for our bones and internal organs. Stronger muscles also mean better agility and stamina. All these go to aid you immeasurably to better upon your physical condition and ultimately elevate you onto better health. No doubt, the benefits of exercise are holistic and multi-advantageous.


And the beauty of exercise is those who do it, enjoy it and when they don’t, they miss it terribly.