If you are or have been a CP+R athlete, you’ll probably be familiar with this:
…our famous counting through your resistance exercises.
We have a big focus on resistance training, and for good reason. Although people still often perceive cardiovascular exercise as superior, in fact, resistance training has the superpowers to help you live longer, better.
Here’s the evidence:
Live long by being strong:
As the graph below shows, muscular strength is directly and independently associated with longevity, and particularly for individuals over the age of 60.
There is a whopping 54% decreased mortality risk if you’re in the upper third of strength, and this is independent of cardiorespiratory fitness and other potential confounders.
Use it or lose it:
Below is a graph of how muscle mass and function change throughout the lifespan.
The White Line – Sedentary:
Muscle function decreases with age: 1% a year from the age of about 30 and then 1.5% from about 50 (and muscle power, which is most closely linked to daily function, actually declines more rapidly: up to 2-3% per year).
Eventually, muscle function will decrease to a point where a task is no longer possible. This is a called a ‘disability threshold’. For some, this may the ability to run, play tennis etc., but for others it may be getting in and out of a chair, out the bath or off the floor.
The Pink Line – Catabolic Crisis:
Newer research suggests that the pink line is actually a more accurate pattern of muscle across a person’s lifespan.
In addition to the steady decline, we have episodes of accelerated muscle loss and incomplete recovery. This could be through periods of illness, injury or bed rest.
To put his in context, 10 days of bed rest can lead to:
- 150-300g loss of lower limb mass in younger adults
- 900g loss of lower limb mass i n older adults
- The equivalent to 10 years of ageing!
The Yellow Line – Resistance Exercise:
Fear not though, there is an elixir of life and that’s resistance exercise!
We know that individuals who undertake regular resistance exercise can extend this disability threshold by 10-15 yrs – yes, it’s about living better, not just longer.
We know that it’s never too late and the cross-sectional images of a person’s leg (above) shows this.
For 12 weeks of resistance training, 3 times a week, in 85-97 year olds , these were the gains:
- Increased muscle cross sectional area by 44%
- Increased muscle strength by 134%!!
A few more reps to go:
Hopefully I’ve given you some headline stats as to ‘why’ resistance exercise should be a keystone in any exercise routine to help you live longer, better. Next week we’ll take a deeper dive into the ‘how’ and the ‘what’.
My podcast playlist: “Barbell Medicine: resistance training for health + longevity with Dr Jordan Feigenbaum” by Hazel Wallace
“Jordan Feigenbaum is a physician, strength coach, and powerlifter. He started Barbell Medicine in 2012 in an effort to bring the best of modern medicine to strength and conditioning and vice versa. Jordan is passionate about a variety of issues related to public health, education, and sport.
This episode covers:
– The story behind barbell medicine: bench to bedside
– Health benefits of resistance training
– Why recommendations to do resistance training are not more widespread in medical practice
– How we can integrate resistance training into primary care
– Advice for people new to weight training
– Fears around causing or triggering pain when lifting heavy
– Pain and injury management in weight lifting.
– Jordan’s big rocks when it comes to health and longevity.”