There was quite a stir when the American Medical Association journal published an article on Miriam E. Nelson’s research on the outcome of a year of strength training in women. The published results indicated that after one year of strength training twice a week, women’s bodies were 15 to 20 years more youthful! Their bones gained bone density without the use of drugs with the strength training. They found themselves being stronger physically, more flexible and with better balance. The women had not changed their eating habits, but they were leaner and trimmer than a year earlier. These women also improved in energy levels by 27%.
Men also can benefit from this anti-aging routine. When people can’t walk at a normal pace, they will also have trouble with doing heavy work — like raking leaves, washing the car, mowing the lawn, or cleaning the garage — lifting 10 pounds, walking a half mile, walking up stairs and doing personal hygiene chores. One study concluded that in order to remain independent as one ages, it is absolutely vital to have good muscle strength.
An interesting book called “Biomarkers: 10 Determinants of Aging You Can Control,” explains how strength training is the fountain of youth. There are 10 determinants you can control by strength training. These are your muscle mass, strength, basal metabolic rate, body fat percentage, aerobic capacity, blood-sugar tolerance, cholesterol/HDL ratio, blood pressure, bone density, and your body’s ability to regulate its internal temperature.
The most obvious determinant is muscle mass and strength that creates immediate results with physical activity. Muscles grow when we stimulate them with resistance exercises. Loss of muscle mass creates a domino effect by negatively affecting the other nine determinants. If you keep maintaining or increasing the muscle mass, you will keep the other nine determinates of aging at good levels.
The benefits of a well-planned strength training program include: increased muscle strength, endurance and tone, increased ligament and tendon strength which reduces arthritic pain, increased bone density — the opposite of osteoporosis — better posture, easier acquisition of sports skills, greater joint stability, higher rest metabolic rate — which means you burn more calories and consequently promote weight loss and maintenance — less risk of injury and falls, aid in childbearing, reduced chronic lower back pain, and improved cholesterol levels.
Look for a balanced and safe training program in the community or work with a trainer to learn how to use strength training to keep you functioning younger.