You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to appreciate the body’s muscles. Without muscle strength, we wouldn’t be moving and getting our daily functions completed. And the muscle cramps we get from time to time remind us of how important it is to keep our muscles healthy and strong. Muscles produce basic movements like digestion and breathing to complex movements like dancing, running, jumping and swimming. Here are some more interesting facts about muscles (American Council on Exercise, ACE).

yoga poseThree types of muscles. The skeletal muscles attach to the bones by tendons and are the only muscles that are consciously controlled to create movement. The smooth muscles line the inside of the blood vessels and organs and they contract involuntarily (we don’t consciously contract them). For example, the stomach has smooth muscles that move the food along the digestive tract. The cardiac muscles are located in the heart and contract involuntarily to move the blood through the body.

More muscle facts. There are over 600 muscles that work together to keep the body moving and functioning. Muscles make up about 40% of the body’s total weight. The largest muscle is the gluteus maximus (the large buttocks muscle) and the strongest muscle is the masseter (the jaw muscle). The masseter muscle makes the jaw close with up to 55 pounds of force on the incisor teeth and up to 200 pounds of force on the molar teeth. Incredible strength in the jaw!

Muscle disorders can be common in producing inflammatory myopathy causing muscle inflammation, muscular dystrophy causing weakness of the muscles, metabolic muscle disorders which interfere with chemical reactions and neuromuscular disorders that impair nerve signals to the muscles.

Muscles generate about 85% of our body heat. So when it gets cold this winter, get up and move around instead of just turning the heat up. Your body will warm up because of your muscle heat. If you choose to stay on the couch all day and not move, you’ll need some blankets to make up for the loss of body heat.

Keep your muscles healthy and strong. Do regular physical activity. Notice I didn’t say exercise. Physical activity could be anything getting us off of our largest muscle the gluteus maximus and moving. Washing clothes, cleaning the floors, washing the cars, walking the dog, for example, are great activities to keep us strong daily when we aren’t going to the parks, the beach, the gym, the pool, or the sports activity that we prefer.

Eat nutritious foods like proteins and plant-based foods. Eat foods that contain magnesium like whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and nuts, like almonds. Also, stay hydrated.

Enjoy taking care of your muscles. Here’s to your great health.

Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the November 21, 2019 edition of the Seaford Star.