By Jeff Tomaszewski, Chief Life Transformer, MaxStrength Fitness
Fitness trends come and go, but weight training in particular never seems to come into style. Part of the problem is that most people associate it with bodybuilding culture and women in particular are reluctant to join the guys at the back of the gym. But as the latest studies show, strength is a key factor in longevity and an extended healthy life. And in fact, resistance training may be the single most important thing you can add to your fitness regimen. Here’s how getting stronger will help you enjoy your life to the fullest as you age!
Gradual muscle decline
Simply put, we get physically weaker as we get older. Most people tend to reach the apex of their physical strength during their 20s and 30s, and it gradually declines from there. Exceptions to this rule exist, however, including genetic outliers and people who begin their resistance training later in life.
But once our strength starts to go, so do other things. For most people, extreme declines in strength tend to happen in their 80s and 90s. Frailty as a condition results in lower levels of physical activity, decreased muscle strength, increased fatigue, slower walking speed, and unwanted weight loss. It’s also associated with adverse health outcomes, an increased dependency on others, decreased mobility, disability, institutionalization, and even mortality. Weaker elderly people also tend to fall more frequently and have greater difficulty standing from sitting or lying positions.
Gerontologists place the blame on our defective mitochondria—the powerhouses of our cells. As we age, our mitochondria start to degrade, resulting in weaker cells and muscle fibers. We experience this as decreased levels of endurance, strength, and function.
Muscular strength and longevity
As a consequence of all this, muscular weakness is indelibly tied to not just our quality of life, but our life expectancy as well. And the science proves this. Two recent studies published in the British Medical Journal revealed that muscular strength is a remarkably strong predictor of mortality—even after adjusting for cardiorespiratory fitness and other health factors.
This conclusion was reached after an analysis of over 30 studies that recorded physical attributes like bench press strength, grip strength, walking speed, chair rising speed, and standing balance. What the researchers found was that poor performance on any of the tests was associated with higher all-cause mortality, anywhere from a 1.67 to a threefold increase in the likelihood of earlier mortality.
Now, here’s the good news: To a non-trivial degree, and despite the inexorable effects of aging, physical strength is an attribute we can control. As the science is increasingly showing, resistance training can literally add years to your life, and the earlier you get to it, the better.
Resistance training and rejuvenation
Weight training offers innumerable positive effects on our physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being. Taken as a whole, exercise has been shown to add between six and seven years to a life span, if not more.
Hit the weights, everyone
As these studies indicate, not all exercise is equal. Resistance training (like lifting weights), in conjunction with high intensity workouts (like aerobics and running), are key. And it’s never too late to start; and yes, ladies, this means you, too. (“Bulking up” is a myth; moreover, it’s arguably more important for women to lift weights on account of a higher propensity for osteoporosis). Seniors also need to lift weights. Actually, they really need to lift weights.
Studies show that elderly people still experience the benefits of gene shifting, even if they’ve never lifted weights before. It also results in an increased production of growth hormone and testosterone, and lower levels of dangerous cholesterol. It can also stave off the awful effects of neurodegenerative disorders and depression.
If you haven’t yet started a strength training program and would like to reap all of the benefits above by only spending 20 minutes twice a week, go to www.maxstrengthfitness.com or call us at 440.835.9090 to request your FREE initial consultation and demo workout TODAY!
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