Know the importance of muscles and protein

Summer is a great time for youth and adults to move. Understanding how muscles work and how protein is needed to make muscles move is important.

Protein is important for our body and is needed to build up, maintain and replace tissues. Protein can be found in foods like meat, nuts, eggs, dry beans, seafood and seeds. Proteins function as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. They are also building blocks for enzymes, hormones and vitamins. Proteins are one of three nutrients that provide calories – the others are fat and carbohydrates.

Muscle is also very important to everyone because we need our muscles to survive. The heart is the strongest muscle in our body and is always looking to get stronger. Muscles enable us to be active and exercise. Our strength comes for our muscles and how much they are used.

Ways we can make our muscles stronger are by doing aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is where repetitive activity and large muscle movement is helping our muscles use oxygen. As you exercise, the number of blood cells in your body increases and that helps carry oxygen to all the tissues and organs.

It is a good idea for youth and adults to eat protein and exercise on a daily basis to make sure we are keeping our muscles strong and flexible. Doing 60 minutes of vigorous to moderate activity daily is important for all youth. According to the Center for Disease Control, adults need an equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

The Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Program has a curriculum called Jump Into Foods and Fitness that has a lot of activities and information about teaching kids about movement and muscles. It includes teaching youth about the muscle groups and has activities to do with youth to get them active.

Visit the MSU Extension website to learn more about nutrition, physical fitness and 4-H, or visit your local MSU Extension county office.

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