Strength Training: the fountain of youth
In a world filled with wellness and longevity goals, we often fixate too much on quick remedies such as detoxes, ice baths, fasting, foam rolling and fad diets etc., rather than focusing on the basics such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, and time devoted to relaxation.
We all want that “magic pill” that will prevent things like diabetes and high cholesterol, a supplement to help with sleep, a drink to wake us up and an ointment to relieve us of our pain. But quick fixes often lead to fleeting results.
What if there was a time tested intervention, one that has never been refuted in research or public perspective, one that decreases the chance of all-causes of death, improves mental health and decreases cognitive decline,… and actually increases longevity? An intervention that is available to the entire population and is free!
We have this intervention and it is STRENGTH TRAINING, and it is the most heavily impactful and least utilized treatment we have for health today.
Benefits of Strength Training
It is reasonable and well-understood that exercise helps with things like obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease. We all tend to associate this with a “burning calories” result, thus we don’t retain and store it as fat. But in reality it is much more complex than this. Strength training is a silver bullet in having a long and vital life. Strength training from your teens moving forward into adulthood is shown to have a 25-30% decrease in all causes of mortality. If it was just caloric expenditure being the main reason for that, fasting and cardiovascular exercise would likely have the same benefits.
Strength training does much more than just burn calories. It increases total muscle mass allowing for a higher, more efficient metabolism. It increases your tolerance to stress thereby helping with anxiety, depression and sleep. It stimulates important metabolites in brain health, thereby decreasing cognitive decline through things like Parkinson’s and Alzheimers. It regulates your immune system, decreasing chances of infection, and improving outcomes when you do catch seasonal cold or flu.
What about pain and degeneration?
We traditionally think that arthritis and degeneration of our spine is a “wear and tear” issue. But in reality it is a “rest and rust” issue. If we don’t challenge our spine, our cartilage, our tendons, our muscles they are going to break down in response to the physical stresses of the day.
In regards to pain, every guideline whether it is for acute low back pain, post surgical rehab recommendations, or someone dealing with chronic pain of any kind, they all say to increase physical activity and start strength training. No matter the condition, no matter the situation, there is a reason to move some weight!
Now, am I telling you that you need to be lifting heavy weights 5 days a week? No. It is actually much easier than that. Two days a week, lift weights that are challenging for 30 minutes. Combine that with 150 minutes of relaxed cardio and you are meeting all the guidelines put forth by the WHO.
IF you integrate this level of exercise into your life you won’t regret it!
Early on, keep it simple, cover 1-2 exercises of each category a week, hit 4-6 sets in those sessions and you will be hitting the mark. As you get stronger, add a little more weight, change the rep scheme, move the weights slower or faster, add some variety but above all keeping it simple is best. It doesn’t matter age, fitness level, or goals.
All you need to do is find a safe starting point that challenges you and go from there.
- Horizontal: Bench press, push up
- Vertical: Military press, incline bench
- Horizontal: Seated rows, TRX rows
- Vertical: Lat pulldown, pull ups
- Reverse, forward, lateral, step ups
- Glute bridge, deadlift, single leg RDL
- Front squat, back squat, box squat, door jam squat
- Carry something heavy for an extended period of time
“Getting strong is easy. All you have to do is be incredibly consistent over a very long period of time”
Key things to take away from this post:
- Strength/resistance training is one of the most underutilized and powerful tools for overall health and longevity in this country
- Strength training helps boost immunity, reduces risk for many disease and decreases mortality rate
- Start out easy with 2-3 days a week and 30-minutes of challenging weights
- Strength training helps with chronic pain, mental health and sleep
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