They say milk does a body good… Well, milk takes a backseat to the long-term benefits of exercise… In a stretch limo!

The musculoskeletal system is one of the most precise, frequently adaptable systems in the human body, based on simple physics. Increase the force on a certain limb or muscle, positive long-term benefits occur. Remove the physical stimulus, the muscle shrinks. I’m sure this statement may not have been “enlightening,” but the specific long-term benefits of muscular adaptation may be.

First, and the most obvious long-term benefit of exercise, is an increase in muscle size, or muscle hypertrophy. As far as a timeline is concerned, you can detect a notable increase in muscle size after only three weeks of regular workouts, states the Journal of Applied Physiology. However, the journal also states that the first signs of muscle improvement involves an increase in nerve connections to the muscle. It really is like going from dial up internet service to DSL. Make the connections more efficient first, and then upgrade the product.

Next, the endurance of your muscles increase significantly with regular training. According to Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, choosing to include a higher number of reps and sets into your workouts will result in improved endurance. This adaptation translates to longer runs, more efficient workout sessions and a better ability to perform physical activities of daily living for a longer duration. Basically, you will be less short-winded. Clear long-term benefits…

Finally, similar to cardiovascular exercise, strength training will also help you burn fat reports the National Library of Medicine. An increased amount of abdominal fat increases your risk for heart disease, cancer, sleep apnea, diabetes, high cholesterol and other serious medical problems that can be controlled with lifestyle changes. Studies are continuing to confirm the strong correlation between regular exercise and a reduction in abdominal fat. The mechanism- an increase in your metabolic rate, or metabolism. Think of extra muscle as an engine. Those who have a lot of muscle have V8 engines that require a lot of fuel, or calories, to run. Those with less muscle mass? A 4-cylinder or a hybrid… In this case, fuel efficiency is not optimal 😉

So- more proof that your regular exercise program is not in vain. Stick with it and continue to reap the many long-term benefits of exercise on muscles!