Strength training is vital for health and longevityAug 11, 2022
One of the best things you can do for your overall health and longevity is… strength training!
Why is it so good for our health? Well, one main reason is to prevent the age-related muscle loss that occurs after the age of 30 if we aren’t smart about our activity.
Our bodies are really good at losing muscle when we are inactive as we age.
Muscle mass decreases approximately 3-8% per decade after the age of 30 (ref) with even higher rates (up to 15%) after the age of 60 (ref).
Meaning, adults who do not perform resistance exercise lose almost 5 lbs of muscle every decade before age 50 years (ref) and up to 10 lbs of muscle every decade after age 50 years! (ref)
And this age-related muscle loss is associated with a cascade of health problems including:
- a reduction in metabolic rate
- increases in fat mass and changes in body composition leading to increased rates of insulin resistance (ref, ref)
- bone loss (ref)
- diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- heart disease
- and physical dysfunction
But you can do something about it!
Strength training prevents sarcopenia (defined as age related, involuntary loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength)
“Data indicate that preservation of muscle mass and prevention of sarcopenia can help prevent the decrease in metabolic rate… Fortunately, aged muscle is still very plastic and can respond to anabolic stimuli by increasing its mass and strength.” (ref)
What is strength training?
Strength training (aka resistance training or weight training) is a form of activity that exercises a muscle or muscle group against external resistance. It increases muscle strength and size by making your muscles work against a weight.
It does not have to be crazy intense and you should not overtrain by lifting every single day.
And with natural lifters, you will not get super buff like big bodybuilders.
But in order to look ‘toned’ you need a base of muscle!
Implementing a smart and intentional strength training program 3-4 days a week will provide a number of health benefits (in addition to maintaining or building some muscle mass, which seems to be a vital piece of longevity).
The health benefits of strength training include:
- Protects against cardiovascular disease (ref)
- Lowers blood pressure after 2 or more months of regular resistance exercise (ref, ref)
- Improves LDL cholesterol clearing and reduces triglyceride count (ref)
- Improves glucose utilization (ref) and insulin sensitivity (ref)
- Improve mental health (ref)
- Increases bone mineral density (ref)
- Reverses specific aging factors in skeletal muscle (such as muscle mitochondrial content and function) (ref)
- Enhances physical function (ref) and reverses degenerative processes associated with inactive aging like muscle loss and functional abilities (ref, ref). Essentially, muscle helps you maintain basic functional movement patterns.
- Increases metabolic rate (ref, ref, ref) and improves body composition
How can muscle increase your metabolic rate? Well, strength training produces tissue microtrauma that requires relatively large energy supplies for muscle remodeling (to grow back bigger and stronger!) And recovering muscle (after a training session) require greater energy requirements than resting muscle.
“Results from this study suggest that 6 weeks of functional, progressive, resistance exercise can elicit significant improvements in BMR in previously sedentary adult women…Following exercise training, BMR significantly increased (+246.76Kcal*day^-1)”. (ref)
While a hypocaloric diet alone can induce weight loss, physical activity and exercise is needed to actually improve body composition. (ref) In fact, strength training helps maintain muscle mass when in a weight loss phase (ref) where without it, you could lose a lot of muscle while losing weight!
The reason our metabolic rate declines as we age is the loss of muscle. By strength training, we can maintain or build muscle and keep our metabolic rate up as we age.
And yes, you can gain muscle! Research shows that everyone can gain muscle (ref), including individuals in their 90s! (ref)
Where do I begin?
Well, muscle building requires a well-rounded, progressive strength training program with intentionality. It also requires adequate rest and nutritional support.
The Exercise & Lifestyle module of our course, Rooted in Resilience, is full of information on building muscle & gaining strength to optimize your health and body composition.
We provide your workouts & update them every six weeks, but we also teach you why & provide the resources & tools necessary to make exercise (both lifting & cardio) an enjoyable and effective part of your life.
Come build muscle with us!
Enroll in the Exercise & Lifestyle module individually, or benefit from the full course (which includes Nutrition & Environment) to truly make a lasting improvement in your health & start building a strong and resilient body.