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Discover Your Biggest Ally in Living a Longer, Healthier Life
We’re shining a spotlight on an often-overlooked yet scientifically-proven key to enhancing both your longevity and your quality of life.
By: Elazar Fleischmann, CPT
October 12, 2023
Are you someone who’s always researching ways to live a healthier life, exploring diets, supplements, superfoods, or the latest fitness trends…
Or, perhaps you grapple with the challenges of aging such as experiencing a decline in strength, dwindling bone density, and a slowing metabolism, all contributing to the specter of frailty and the risk of chronic diseases…
Then this is the article for you. We’re shining a spotlight on an often-overlooked yet scientifically-proven key to enhancing both your longevity and your quality of life. This isn't about quick fixes, fad diets, or elusive miracle drugs. It's about the power of strength training—a formidable, research-backed tool that might just be your closest ally in the quest for a longer, healthier future.
In this article we’ll discuss:
- the influence of strength training on longevity and overall well-being
- the aging process, exploring the links between muscle mass and lifespan
- the role strength training plays in preserving strength and muscle mass as you age
- scientifically-proven advantages of strength training, from enhancing bone density and boosting metabolic rates to improving insulin sensitivity and cognitive function
Whether you're already familiar with the significance of strength training in promoting longevity or just beginning to explore its potential, this article aims to illuminate the path toward a longer, healthier future. The fountain of youth… is here.
What Happens To Our Bodies as We Get Older
As we age, our bodies undergo natural changes and a decline in muscle mass, bone density and metabolism. This can later look like frailty in old age and heightens the risk of developing diseases such as; osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's, cancer and heart disease.
These diseases can all shorten our life span and reduce our quality of life. It may sound morbid, but these changes are natural to the human body. But just because they are natural, doesn’t mean we have to accept them.
We can maintain and even improve our current state of health by utilizing tools like strength training.
The Link Between Muscle Mass and Longevity
Strength training is the most important intervention you can use to increase your body’s muscle mass.
Research shows a significant correlation between muscle mass and one’s all-cause mortality. In other words, if we were to bet on who would live the longest out of a group of people, the best information we could use to predict the outcome would be the current muscle mass of each person.
Low muscle mass also makes it increasingly difficult to perform daily tasks, and greatly increases the risk of falls and injuries. All of this contributes to muscle mass being one of the greatest predictors of lifespan.
One study, done on over 3,600 participants found that muscle mass was an even better predictor of longevity than Body Mass Index (BMI). Muscle mass can even predict your ability to fight cancer.
A meta analysis on six studies found that cancer patients with greater skeletal muscle mass were twice as likely to go into remission. Those with low muscle mass were more likely to be hospitalized to begin with and twice as likely to be rehospitalized later on.
Several large studies have concluded similar correlations with other diseases like type 2 diabetes. Older women with low overall muscle mass are far more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women with more muscle mass, even when the average body fat percentage is the same!
Yet another study found that men and women with type 2 diabetes were able to maintain lower doses of insulin and stabilize blood sugars more quickly if they had a greater amount of skeletal muscle mass.
The importance of muscle mass doesn’t end here. Greater muscle mass has been shown to reduce the likelihood of a cardiac event, slow the onset of Alzheimer’s, and can even predict how likely someone is to maintain bone density and stave off diseases like osteoporosis!
Muscle mass prevents the development of diseases, helps you fight through any current conditions, and strongly correlates with your ability to recover from illness or injury. All of this contributes to your overall longevity and quality of life.
Maintaining adequate muscle mass as you age will give you the physical strength to stay active, reduce the likelihood of falls and injuries, and give you balance, energy, and mobility.
Could Strength Training Be The Key to Longer Living?
Thankfully, your muscle mass is not determined by your genetics, or your past. There is something we can do about it! The answer is strength training.
Strength training, which involves using some form of resistance to challenge your muscles will simply make your muscles stronger and more powerful. This is how we increase muscle mass.
By directly stimulating the muscles to contract by moving or resisting a load, you create a metabolic signal in your body to produce more muscle fibers (cells). In other words, you challenge your body and your body adapts.
There are even more benefits to strength training than just increasing muscle mass! We will dive into those a little later.
First, let’s address why people don’t strength train. It often comes down to one of several reasons; not enough time, not having the proper support and knowledge, fear of injury, or it is just too inconvenient. Thankfully, there is a solution to this as well.
There is a way to strength train more efficiently, more effectively, and in a safer fashion. The answer – slow motion strength training. This involves loading the muscle with resistance and moving slowly through a safe range of motion.
This means that your muscles are encountering resistance, not your joints. This allows your muscles to work to a state of deep fatigue. This is a good thing! The more deeply we can fatigue the muscles, the more efficiently we begin to experience muscle growth.
Strength Training Does SO Much More Than Build Muscle
We know that strength training builds muscle, but we bet there is a benefit or two of strength training that you were not aware of. Let’s dive into some of the lesser-known benefits of strength training!
Increased Bone Density
Strength training isn't just about muscles; it also strengthens your bones. By subjecting bones to resistance, you stimulate the production of bone-forming cells, increasing bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
A higher muscle-to-fat ratio resulting from strength training elevates your resting metabolic rate. This means you burn more calories at rest, making weight management and fat loss more achievable. Essentially, you become more efficient at utilizing the energy you put in your body.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Strength training improves insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. It helps your body use insulin more effectively, keeping blood sugar levels stable.
Enhanced Cognitive Function
Improved Energy Levels & Endurance
Strength training goes beyond the visible benefits. It plays a crucial role in cellular health by stimulating processes like mitochondrial biogenesis. This process boosts energy production within cells, keeping you feeling youthful and vibrant. Strength training also increases your VO2 Max, or the maximum amount of oxygen your muscles can utilize. This is not only a marker of endurance, but a very potent predictor of overall health and longevity.
Tips for Getting Started with Strength Training
Regardless of your current age or fitness level, you can strength train. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Start slow: Jumping into intense strength training too quickly can lead us to focus on the wrong things. Safety is important. We want to slowly increase the load on the muscles, give adequate time for recovery, and actually allow the body to build strength.
- Focus on proper form and technique: We are strength training to build our bodies, not break them. Learning and maintaining proper form will prevent injuries and keep you safe.
- Consistency and commitment: If you do it once, it is unlikely to have any lasting effect. Staying consistent will maintain the muscle you have worked to build and allow you to gradually become stronger over time. Commitment is key for actually getting the long term results.
- Seek professional guidance: Working with a certified trainer will help you strength train in a safe fashion. If you're unsure where to begin, consult with a fitness professional who can design a personalized strength training program tailored to your needs. If you are a seasoned athlete, a professional trainer can take your fitness to the next level!
Want to Live Longer? Strength Train.
What's the point of living a longer life, if it's not in good health? We all want to be around and actually enjoy the time we have. In this pursuit for a longer and healthier life, strength training is a formidable ally. It may even be our strongest.
We know about the benefits of maintaining muscle mass. And strength training offers far more benefits than just that. By understanding the aging process and how this affects our bodies, we can leverage the tools we have to improve our bone density, better our cognitive function, stave off disease, and remain strong and active.
We have the key to unlock the secret to a longer and better future.
This is where The Perfect Workout can help.
To speak with a Personal Trainer about exercise, nutrition or any help with lifestyle adjustments please call us at (888) 803-6813.
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