Sometimes getting fit can seem like an uphill struggle.
With the days short, the weather cold, and the comfort food tantalizing, we could find a million excuses to avoid the gym – before ourselves for letting New Year’s Resolutions slip.
But anatomy expert Mike Aunger insists we mustn’t be disheartened: there are scores of everyday movements that keep every single one of our muscles active.
Chief among them is sex, which uses every single one of our 657 muscles – depending on your mood.
Aunger is one of the driving forces behind a new campaign to help people better train, fuel and use our bodies.
The campaign is in aid of raising awareness about muscular dystrophy, a tragic fatal disease that robs children of their bodily movements.
While we may not realize it, we use hundreds of muscles to do everything – whether we’re texting, playing golf, running for the bus, or puckering up for a kiss.
Running involves 99 muscles, while kissing involves 35, and texting 38.
Dad dancing, which focuses on the lower limbs for a good ‘bop’, consumes the energy of a staggering 85 muscles.
You’d be better off, however, dancing the waltz, which uses 135 muscles.
Astonishingly, even watching a movie involves 16 muscles (in your eyes).
In terms of solid exercise, a golf drive uses 137 muscles, while cycling uses 155.
But really, if a full-body workout is your goal, you’d be better off having sex.
‘In the bedroom, every muscle matters,’ Aunger, who runs London clinic Technique Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine, explains.
‘All your skeletal muscles are essential for movement, no matter how vigorous.
‘All your autonomous (involuntary) smooth muscles play a ceaseless role in digestion, respiration, circulation and bodily function.
‘And of course your cardiac muscles are integral for pumping your blood into all the right places.’
That said, for any activity, it is important to stay active.
‘It’s never been more important to keep your muscles healthy,’ Aunger insists.
‘Physical inactivity can cause you to lose as much as 3–5 percent of muscle mass each decade but you can slow the decline with regular exercise and optimal protein nutrition.’
In a bid to get more people embracing their own strength, Aunger has helped design at #657challenge – an attempt at a new version of the Ice Bucket Challenge.
While the incredibly successful Ice Bucket Challenge was in aid of people with locked-in syndrome (ALS), this is to support people with muscular dystrophy.
Essentially it involves sitting and standing with a full glass of water on your head.
Those who think that sounds easy should try it themselves:
STEP 1: Fill a glass of water (to the brim if you’re confident).
STEP 2: From standing, hold the glass in place on your head with both hands (take one hand off if you have to but aim to keep both on the glass).
STEP 3: Bend your legs to lower yourself to the ground until you’re sitting fully cross-legged on the floor (bum must be in contact with the ground).
STEP 4: From sitting, drive back up off the floor without removing the glass from your head (this is where you might get a little water spillage).
STEP 5: Once you’re back standing, assess the spillage.
To find out more about the challenge, visit Upbeat Active’s blog on Medium.
How sex uses 657 muscles
We engage muscles just craning the neck, making a sound, or clenching the eyes shut.
Does it count towards your 30 minutes of exercise a day?
That depends on your mood.
Studies have shown most sex can be equated to something like a brisk walk in terms of exercise.
But no other activity engages muscles quite like sex.
Here is a breakdown:
Facial Muscles – 35 muscles
The main muscle used to perform the kissing motion is the obicularis oris, the muscle that control the movement of the mouth and lips.
It is primarily used to pucker up the lips.
The other muscles that play a noticeable part in the action of kissing are the platysma (which depresses the mouth), elevator labii superioris (which controls the top lip), depressor labii inferioris (which controls the bottom lip) and of course the tongue (made up of eight muscles).
To make a sound – 50 muscles
It may feel like a spontaneous moan.
But that sound is activating all the muscles you hear about in those dreaded ab workouts – including your rectus abdominus (one muscle) and your obliques (four muscles),
A noise of ecstasy also uses the diaphragm (one muscle), a variety of chest muscles (44 muscles), neck muscles (eight muscles), and upper back muscles (two muscles).
Eye muscles – 16 muscles (if the lights are on and blindfold off)
The more you open, move or swivel your eyes, the more action your facial muscles are getting.
Two muscles power horizontal movement.
Another two muscles (superior rectus and inferior rectus) work against each other to lift and lower the eyes.
And two more power the eyelids.
That is, if the lights are on… and no blindfold is involved.
Neck posture – 22 muscles
Rotating the head, flexing the head, looking down, looking up, raising the shoulders… these are all a fact of sex.
And to achieve this, your muscles need to be alert.
Lower limb musculature – 52 muscles
This is the part of the body providing most musculature support for sex – in men and women.
You can forget squats in the gym – try some interesting positions to really work your quads, biceps femoris (back of the thigh), and calves.
Pelvis + Core – 21 muscles
You may not be thinking about your gluteus maximus, medius, minimus, tensor fascia latea, or ilio psoas major and minor when you’re in the moment.
But these pelvic muscles are the key to the thrust. With these in top condition, performance is a walk in the park. And sex may help you exercise these muscles.
You also need a strong core, stimulating your obliques and abs once again.
Shoulder girdle and arm muscles – 26 muscles
These can really come into play depending on the position.
Your shoulder muscles (including your major and minor rhomboids and your latissimus dorsi) will be exercised when you tense your shoulder blades together.
You also use your serratus anterior (or ‘wings’ – the muscles that sit under your armpits) biceps, and triceps.
Hand muscles – 34 muscles
The list of muscles used to grab something, or to move your hand, is extensive and wordy.
But for those interested, an action-packed session will work out a whole of host of muscles including such things as your brachoradilais, pronator teres, palmaris longus, flexor carpi ulnaris, pronator quadratus, and flexor carpi radialis.
Heart – 1 muscle
The cardiac muscle (different to skeletal and smooth muscles) is used to pump blood around the body (and to all the right places).
Hero muscle of the Perineum – 1 muscle
The bulbospongiosus plays the starring role between the sheets for both sexes.
Found in the perineum (between the scrotum or vulva and the anus) it contributes to erection, contractions of orgasm and ejaculation in men and clitoral erection, contractions of orgasm and closing of the vagina in women.
Source: Daily Mail