Strength Training for Longevity?
You will die one day, that’s a given. The question is how you will age and will those later years be full of freedom of movement, joy, happiness and feeling like you can do anything or will you be in and out of the hospital too weak to enjoy the life that you took so long to build? We’re going to explore the former in this article and what you can do to feel your best on a daily basis and move without pain or restriction well into your 90’s!
Let’s start off with a simple question. How many days a week are you getting to the gym? When you get there, what are you doing?
Are you the typical, wake up at the butt crack of dawn and get on a hamster wheel (treadmill or elliptical or stationary bike) for 45-60min, get a good sweat on, then shower quickly, grab a coffee and a bagel and off to the coal mines you go?
Maybe you’re the “race to the gym after work” person, to get it in before it gets too busy; 30-45min on the hamster wheel, then some bicep curls and you’re out.
Or maybe fitness just isn’t even on your radar. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
the KIND of fitness you do can actually lead you to better or worse health outcomes.
Whatever the case might be, I bet you never gave any thought about why fitness is important and that the KIND of fitness you do can actually lead you to better or worse health outcomes. In particular, let’s look at the difference between doing aerobic exercise only (“cardio”) versus adding in a few strength training sessions per week.
Now, I’m not going to give you too much grief if you’re actually getting to the gym a few days a week and doing what you can. Nor am I going to scold you for not having fitness a part of your life. What I will do however, is give you some great insight into why fitness (strength training in particular) SHOULD be a part of your life. I will also show you that it doesn’t have to be hard to get fit, create a good routine that you can stick to and extend your quality of life by reducing future disease, well into your later years. Remember, longevity doesn’t have to mean just living as long as possible. Let’s think about it more like living without pain or disease, maintaining strength and great cognition, so you can enjoy your life well into your elderly years.
For starters, what if I told you that just one (1) hour of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week could reduce your mortality risk by as much as 15% ( https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/56/21/1218 ) ?! Let’s bump that up to three (3) hours per week and that reduced risk becomes 27%! (See, told you I wouldn’t give you too much grief for getting in what you can. Well done, you.) But, hold the phone, let’s add in just 1-2 hours of strength training every week and what do you think that does? Yup, you guessed it, that mortality risk gets reduced even further! Now we’re up to a 40% reduction! Compared to someone that doesn’t workout at all, this is quite significant. (Again, not scolding, just showing you that strength training SHOULD be a part of your life).
I’ve written about this before, and for those who are interested in a deeper dive on it, go read my article, “Muscle As Medicine” (https://regeneratestrength.com/blog/muscle-as-medicine ). But for now, let’s stick to the basic facts that aging is inevitable. Sarcopenia (muscle loss), Osteopenia (bone density loss) can start to creep in as early as your 30’s. Therefore, strength training is literally the fountain of youth!
What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be that hard?
Mono-structural aerobic work (“cardio”) is what most people tend to think about when “staying fit” and that you have to do A LOT of it…..ALL THE TIME. Fitness then becomes this drudge and burden that just sounds exhausting to even think about. What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be that hard? That you can create a solid routine of strength based exercises 2-3x per week AND still include some of the aerobic (“cardio”) work that is good for your heart and circulatory system. We’re talking 60-75min in the gym for each session. If you can hop on a treadmill or elliptical for that long, you can incorporate some strength training as a part of that effort.
Let’s look at an example of a sample week of strength training that incorporates some aerobic work as well. This sample week will include three (3) “rest days”, which will act as recovery days. Now, recovery could be going for a hike or getting in a long beach walk or playing basketball with friends. Rest in this instance doesn’t mean go HAMM on a basket of fries and a cheeseburger or be a couch potato. This week will also include an “optional” 4th day of “blood flow”. This fourth day acts as a way to get in some general movement and move some blood and lymph. Lymph, you know, that metabolic waste system called your lymphatic system that doesn’t have a central pump to move the contents so it relies on you actually moving your body or flush it? Yup, that.
Let’s have a look at a sample week of one of my clients. Keep in mind that all of the Coaching jargon is explained to the client ahead of time, and explanation videos are included with every movement to ensure the client understands exactly what is being asked of them to do and express:
In this sample week, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday are Rest Days with Saturday being an optional day…encouraged, but optional.
Again, strength training doesn’t have to be hard, it just needs to be consistent.
We’ve already seen that adding in just 1-2 hours per week can have a significant impact on reducing your overall mortality risk, so just think what happens when we are adding it in 3-4x per week on a consistent basis? Then throw on top of that a healthy diet and solid lifestyle routines? Just imagine the possibilities….
I know this isn’t as easy as it sounds.
That’s why having a Coach to help you navigate this and help guide you on your journey
can be so life changing!
So if looking radiant and feeling your best on a daily basis, fitting into stylish clothing, keeping up with the younger generations well into later stages of aging and feeling you can do anything functional (life related movements) without pain or restrictive motion well into your 90’s, then I’ve got the solution for you!.
Let’s chat. Contact me today to get started on your strength training journey!
In Health & Fitness,
Coach Dave Downey