Undoubtedly the most rewarding thing about exercise is the way it makes you feel (you know that awesome, I CAN TAKE ON THE WORLD feeling!)
Another great by-product of exercise is the way it can change your body. There's loads of way exercise can make your body look better - one of these is due to an increase in our lean muscle mass (the stuff that gives you the toned figure aspired by many).
But do you actually know what happens to our muscles when they grow?
With the help of Ted-Ed, we're getting to grips with the science of exactly how our muscles grow!
Muscles make up between 1/2 and 1/3 of our bodies, how we treat them determines whether they grow or shrink (and nobody wants them to shrink!) This is especially important for those of us who are on the more mature side. Our bodies begin to lose muscle mass from around aged 40 and this process accelerates rapidly from 60 onwards. Lack of muscle can lead to various problems such as a decrease in metabolism, joint issues and balance problems , making older people more prone to falls and injuries.
As we expose our muscles to "stress" (for example weight training) tiny tears occur in the muscles. Don't panic - this is a good thing! These injured cells release molecules called cytokines, which tell our immune system to repair the muscles. The more damage to the muscle, the more repair which is required. It is this cycle of damage and repair that over time will make muscles bigger and stronger as they adapt to higher demands (ie heavier weights)
Muscular hypertrophy is the process where our muscles become bigger due to continual increased exposure to higher workloads
Muscular atrophy is the process of muscle shrinkage. This is what happens when we stop putting our muscles under any stress or resistance - so even if you're not in the business of growing your muscles it's really important to keep them working so they don't shrink!
Exercise and activity is just one part of the puzzle, to achieve muscle growth your body also needs adequate nutrition (a protein rich diet in order to provide essential amino acids) and rest.