Can Strength Training Save Your Life?

I know I’ve been M.I.A. this week.  My schedule has been nothing close to normal and then to top it off, yesterday the cold I had been fighting started kicking my butt, and I lost my voice. I went to work and had my first session with three awesome girls, then sat down at my desk and was completely spent.  I decided that I needed to cancel the days sessions, come home and rest.  So the remainder of my day was spent sleeping, drinking hot tea and Airborn from my Funshine Bear coffee mug I’ve had since I was six and, in general, being a big baby.

Anyway, I hate not posting earlier in the week than this, but sometimes it just ain’t happening.

We all know strength training has a host of benefits.  It helps athletes get stronger, quicker and more explosive.  It helps men pack on pounds of  muscle.  It helps women get shape and curves.  It is used to strip body fat off and to rehab people after an injury or surgery.  Basically, it’s pretty versatile…and pretty awesome.

But what about saving someones life, that’s probably a bit extreme right?

Have you ever heard of Metabolic Syndrome? 

How about Frailty Syndrome?

In case you haven’t, let me give you a brief synopsis of each.

METABOLIC SYNDROME

Metabolic syndrome is a term used for a group of risk factors that occur together that greatly increase the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.  These risk factors include extra body fat around the midsection and upper body, insulin resistance, age, genetics, hormone changes and lack of exercise.

In short, the more of these factors you have, the more likely you are to develop coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes or have a stroke.

FRAILTY SYNDROME

Frailty syndrome is a collection of symptoms or markers, related to the age related loss and dysfunction of skeletal muscle and bone that place older adults at an increased risk of negative events such as disability and death.

In short, the older you get, the more muscle mass and bone density you lose.

So, we have these two syndromes that literally kill people (because people die from things like coronary heart disease, strokes, diabetes, disability and death…yeah, people die from death.)

Any thoughts as to what might help combat the onset and advancement of both of these syndromes?

That’s right, strength training.  Getting off your butt and moving some weight.  Pumping iron.

When it comes to metabolic syndrome, while strength training can’t undo your age or your genetics, it has been shown to reduce body fat, increase insulin sensitivity, help control hormones and it takes care of the lack of exercise.  That’s 4 of the 6 risk factors (or 67%) that strength training alone can combat.

I don’t know about you, but if something as simple as getting to the gym regularly and moving some weight around could potentially reduce the chance of having a stroke or developing coronary heart disease or diabetes by nearly 70%, I’d definitely be doing it.

With frailty syndrome, there is no question that weight bearing exercise increases both bone density and muscle mass.  While there is no cure for getting older every year, strength training can literally keep your body much much younger.  When you see older people who have trouble getting out of their seats, or putting away the dishes from the sink, this is directly related to a decrease in both bone density and muscle mass.

My last living grandparent (Grandma Gray) is 99, and she still lives on her own.  I started doing some simple training with her about three months ago.  Twice a week, for a half an hour, I take a resistance band and an aerobics step and go through some basic movements with her.

Just this last week, she was telling me how much easier things were for her to do.  She just felt stronger.  Did I mention that she’s 99?!

We often look at the aesthetic benefits of strength training.  Yes, it can help us get a better body, and that is great.  However, there is so much more to it than simply looking good.  We have to remember that from the beginning of time, weight bearing exercise has been woven into the way our bodies are meant to move.  It is part of who we are supposed to be, and it just might save your life.

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One thought on “Can Strength Training Save Your Life?

  1. Hey, Mick!

    I just got home from watching your beautiful daughter and just read your newest post. Great article! Thanks for all you do to keep us informed and for your patience with your “older clients”. We appreciate you!!

    By the way, I’m glad you are feeling better.

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