Strain to Avoid Pain

Weight a Minute

Here's a basic lesson in physiology: One of the primary functions of muscles—besides allowing you to move—is providing protection for your joints. Strong, supple muscles absorb more impact than weak, tight ones and reduce stress on your ankles, knees, hips, and vertebrae. As a result, increasing muscular strength and endurance will not only make everyday activities—from walking and running to mowing the lawn, carrying your kids, schlepping suitcases through the airport—easier for you, but will also reduce your risk of back injuries and other problems. After all, the time you spend in the gym each day pales in comparison to the physical challenges that await you in the "regular" world. Which is why it's ironic that some people will huff and puff for an hour on a Stairmaster, but will refuse to walk up a few flights of stairs. As fitness expert Steve Ilg says, "Take your gym everywhere."

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