Building muscle is not just for bodybuilders, and mobility is not just for yogis. They are two underrated, often neglected aspects of health and fitness. Strength and flexibility are needed in all walks of life, from people who exercise as a hobby to those hoping to be serious competitors.
Take strength, first and foremost. Strong legs helps you with running and jumping, strong arms, chest and back helps you with pushing and pulling, and a strong core works with the rest of your body to help you lift objects, move dynamically, twist and turn. You don't need to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger to see the benefits of building muscle: even a comparatively small amount can dramatically enhance your athletic performance.
Healthy bodies also have a better muscle-to-fat ratio, which is known as "body composition". The less fat and more muscle you're carrying, the higher your body's base metabolic rate, which is how many calories your body burns while at rest.
Strong bodies with less fat not only have a good metabolism, but they also age better: because our muscles waste away as we age, staying active and building muscle fights against the signs of aging, keeping you healthier for longer.
Want to get started building muscle? Equipment such as the best adjustable dumbbells, best kettlebell and best resistance bands can help you begin to build muscle all over your body, from squats to bicep curls. However, you can also get started with the below video, in which expert trainer Ruth Stone from Sweatband.com (opens in new tab) takes us through the first of two mindful movement yoga-inspired workouts – this one focused on movements to build strength:
Watch our workout to build strength here:
Another very underrated aspect of health and fitness is mobility. From serious weightlifters to people who've not been moving much during lockdown, we can all work on our flexibility and mobility. Range of motion helps in all kinds of physical exercise: for example, more flexible calves and leg muscles stop us from "pulling" muscles on long runs.
However, it's not just about safety during exercise: a better range of motion helps in later life just as much as strength. As we get older, not only do our muscles waste away, but they shorten, preventing us from moving quite as far. Think of the shuffle of a very elderly person, versus a middle-aged individual's stride. Ensuring we've got flexible muscles means we'll be able to enjoy many long years of what's considered a "normal" range of motion.
There's plenty of ways to keep ourselves healthy in this respect – for example, trying yoga (with one of our best yoga mats) or other stretching exercises. However, you can also follow along right now with Ruth Stone's second routine below, which focuses on developing mobility through mindful movement.
Follow along with our mobility workout here:
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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