Lift weight people understand that they are playing a long-term game.
Once they have gotten past the “newbie gains”, which are the rapid and exciting increases of muscle strength and volume, it is time to make progress. It takes effort, patience, and time.
They are also playing the longevity Game, regardless of whether they realize it or not.
Research is showing that resistance training can increase our lifespans and prolong our “healthspan”, which is the time period when we are in good health.
A 2022 study review from Japanese researchers linked “muscle-strengthening activities” to a 15% lower risk of dying from any cause during the time period covered in the review.
The resistance exercise has also been linked to a lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease (17%), cancer (12%) and diabetes (17%).
Strength is a great predictor of future health. This has been known for years. Research has shown that stronger people are less likely to die than those with lower strength.
The new research shows that strength training provides similar protection regardless of how it is implemented. Even if you don’t feel as strong or lean as you would like, it is important to continue strength training.
Strength Training for Older People
Strength training is a great way to increase longevity, according to Roger Fielding, PhD at Tufts University. Fielding has been studying exercise and aging since the early 1990s.
He says, “As we age, we see clear deficiencies in muscle function as well as bone health.” With the right exercise, you can slow down, attenuate, or reverse this process.
In the last three decades, his concept of “appropriateness” has seen a significant shift. He says, “When I started to study this stuff, we would attempt to give people a very formalized prescription” for strength training.
The strength training regimen typically required a lot of sets (3 per exercise), moderate reps (8 to 12 per set) and heavy weights. The target population was not able to afford professional supervision at a gym with adequate equipment.
He says, “What I have learned is that even low-intensity strength training at home without a lot of specialized equipment has some benefits.”
Which benefits? It’s difficult to say.
Large, population-wide surveys that included tens to hundreds of thousands of participants have shown a link between resistance exercise and lower mortality. The broad category of “muscle-strengthening exercises” can include anything from calisthenics in the living room to a serious bodybuilding or powerlifting program.
These studies are also based on the self-reporting of the participants. Fielding states that this means “we need to be cautious about how we interpret some studies.”
How much strength training should you do?
This warning is especially relevant for the study’s most shocking conclusion: A maximum of two resistance exercises per week, totalling 30-60 minutes, will provide the greatest longevity benefit.
According to the study, it is not clear why strength training would result in diminishing returns or even negative ones.
Robert Linkul, the owner of Training the Older Adult Shingle Springs, CA believes the answer is clear.
He says, “Less may be more for the beginner lifter.” His new clients usually start with two 50-minute workouts per week. To maintain their gains, they must train three times per week after three months.
14 of his current clients have been with him for at least 16 years. Many of his clients started in their 50s, and now they are in their 60s or 70s. He’d have seen the downsides to exercising more than twice a week by now, so he doesn’t doubt it.
Live longer and move further
Linkul claims that Linkul’s training program goes beyond lifting weights. Each client begins each workout with 10-15 minutes of mobility and warm up exercise. Then, clients do 15 minutes strength training followed by 15 minutes high-intensity resistance (HIRT) training.
Functional exercises are used in HIIT – such as lifting dumbbells or kettlebells and pulling a weighted stool – to increase strength and endurance.
Linkul claims that most of my clients are trained for real-life functions.
They are concerned about falling, and rightfully so: According to the World Health Organization , it is the second leading cause of unintentional injuries-related deaths globally, after traffic accidents.
They also worry about losing their independence after a fall. He says, “They want to feel that they are not restricted from using a cane, a walker, or being in a wheelchair.” “The further we train, the farther we are from that.”
According to a 2019 McMaster University study, strength training has its greatest advantages. According to the study, resistance exercise is particularly effective for maintaining mobility in older adults.
Training for life
Many of the same benefits can be found in traditional aerobic exercise, such as longer life expectancy and lower risks of developing cancer or cardiovascular disease.
There is no need to choose between the two. A recent study found that strength and aerobic exercises can be combined to lower your risk of dying young than doing them individually.
Fielding finds this to be a great idea.
He says that people who are physically active don’t do strength training only. “Some exercise is better than none,” and it is more beneficial to do more than less. “People need to find something they love and can do regularly.”
This post was written by Darryl Johnson, Co-Owner of Apex performance. At Apex performance we are a community of highly trained experts looking to provide performance enhancement and a permanent lifestyle change for our clients in a fun and interactive environment. Members can take advantage of one of the best gym in Tampa, small group classes and specialized courses for a wide variety of athletics, sports training and body goals!