Muscle fitness means having muscles that can lift heavier
objects or muscles that will work longer before becoming exhausted. Muscle
fitness improves when a person does activities that build or maintain muscles
(strength) or that increase how long a person can use his or her muscles
Activities like weight lifting, push-ups, or leg
lifts can improve muscle fitness. As muscle fitness increases, most people
notice that they can carry heavy grocery bags more easily, pick up children
without feeling as much strain, or carry heavy items longer before getting too
tired to continue. Having stronger muscles also protects the joints.
Muscles become stronger through a three-step process:
When a person exercises against resistance, the muscles are
stressed slightly but not to the point of serious damage or injury. When the
person rests, the body rebuilds the muscles and the connective tissues between
them (joints, tendons, and ligaments) in a way that prepares them for the next
time they will be stressed. When the same muscles are stressed again, the
process is repeated, and the muscles gradually become stronger.
Many experts suggest that adults do 8 to 10 muscle-fitness exercises at
least 2 days each week. It's best to allow at least 1 day of rest between these
exercises. A person can achieve the best results by using a resistance (such as
a dumbbell) that tires out the muscles after 8 to 12 repetitions of each
To increase muscle fitness, a person can do:
Basic muscle-conditioning exercises, such as
push-ups, leg lifts, sit-ups, squats, and lunges.
training with rubber tubing or stretchable bands.
with free weights (dumbbells) or weight-training
Housework and yard work, such as scrubbing the bathtub,
washing walls, or pulling weeds.
If you are worried about how exercise may affect your health, talk to a
doctor first to see if it's safe.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Heather Chambliss, PhD - Exercise Science
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.