Strength training reverses aging? I’ll take two dumbbells, please!
Strength training is a girl’s best friend for so many reasons, and half a dozen research-proven reasons are included in this post. You might have noticed that longevity may have unofficially been the buzzword in health and wellness circles the last few years. Yet, who wants to live longer unless they can live well? Strength training is your key to aging better, and dozens of research studies are proving it.
The best part of using strength training to extend and improve your longevity? The fact that it’s a now and later payoff. You can have your sleeveless-worthy arms now and longer, healthier living later!
Let’s start with the basics. Living longer better starts with not dying. Older adults who participated in strength training twice a week have 46 percent lower odds of death for any reason than those who did not. One study showed that overall they reduced their specific risk of cardiac death and cancers. They tended to be normal in body weight and have overall healthier habits. One good thing leads to another.
You can thank your parents for your eye color, but you can’t blame them for the way you age. Genes play their part, but they get their script based on your habits. It’s well known that epigenetics, your environment, and what you do play a bigger role in just about every component of life than your genes do.
It turns out that if you’re strength training, you’re going to change the way you age for the better. One of the key indices used to gauge aging is mitochondria function.
Mitochondria function is responsible for energy production for use throughout your body at every level. This is the currency of your energy and vitality for the second half.
It used to be widely accepted that mitochondrial function simply declined with age. Studies have now shown not only a slowing or decline but a reversal of mitochondria impairment within 6 months of twice per week strength training. It’s never too late to start.
Likewise, 179 genes associated with aging – and whether you do it well or not – were completely changed by strength training. Strength training doesn’t just have the ability to slow the progression of aging; it reverses it.
Few things lead to frailty and accelerated aging more than a lack of muscle. Muscle loss occurs with age (starting at about 30) unless you’re doing something about it. While any exercise is better than inactivity, strength training wins against every other mode of exercise in the aging game where muscle is concerned.
Yet, there’s more to the story than simply muscle loss. You have different types of muscle fibers. Fast-twitch muscle is lost twice as fast as you age and is more responsible for reducing fat to prevent age-related metabolic dysfunction (aka, obesity). It also is what will prevent falls by improving your reaction skills.
Understandably then, fast-twitch muscle fibers gain importance as you age. Strength training is the best way to focus on your fast-twitch muscle fibers. A few minutes of fast interval training drills a few times a week can also support fast-twitch fibers.
Your lifespan as a woman is longer than that of men. So you’re living longer but what you really want is living better than you’ve seen it done in prior generations. Given women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression and anxiety, both of which can influence the risk of dementia, taking care of your emotional and cognitive health is as important as your physical health.
It turns out it’s a two-for-one. If you’re waiting for the leg press, you’re in the right line.
Strength training positively influences mood and decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety. Beyond that, if you’re looking for an edge in creativity and productivity, more and more studies are showing that a break for exercise just may be where your creative breakthrough occurs.
Last but definitely not least, body composition improvements come faster and last longer with strength training compared to cardio. Yes, do your cardio and maintain your mobility with yoga or Pilates, but put strength training high on your priority list.
If you’re looking for results fast, there’s more good news! It’s been found that body composition changes require about 60% less time to see a difference when comparing strength training to cardio. You can spend about 15 minutes instead of 45 and get better lasting results and the appearance of increased muscle and decreased fat.