Not too long ago, weight training was mainly associated with burly athletes competing in powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and bodybuilding. These athletes needed immense strength and muscle to excel in their sports, benefiting from heavy resistance training. For the average person, weight training seemed unnecessary, and even athletes in other sports believed it could hinder their performance.
However, as our lifestyles became more sedentary and heart disease became a leading cause of death, the focus shifted towards regular exercise for physical fitness, maintaining a healthy weight, and heart health. Sadly, there was an overemphasis on aerobic activities, with little encouragement for resistance training.
Recently, attention has turned towards the loss of muscle with age, leading to issues like bone loss, metabolic decline, fat gain, diabetes, and overall mortality. With the growing problem of muscle loss in an aging population, and the mounting evidence that resistance exercise benefits people of all ages and genders, experts are calling for wider adoption of sensible resistance training for public health.
The Chain Reaction of Health Issues
A sequence of events is often associated with various health problems:
Decreased metabolic rate
Followed by fat gain, leading to overweight or obesity in a large percentage of older adults.
Muscle mass tends to decline by 3% to 8% per decade after 30 years old, resulting in a loss of about 0.2 kg of lean weight annually. After 50, this accelerates to 5% to 10% per decade, around 0.4 kg each year. Considering that muscle accounts for up to 40% of total body weight and impacts metabolic risk factors like obesity and diabetes, it's clear that muscle loss contributes to health issues.
Muscles play a crucial role in glucose and triglyceride disposal, making muscle loss a significant factor in glucose intolerance and related health problems. Additionally, resting metabolism decreases about 2% to 3% per decade, primarily due to muscle loss, potentially leading to increased fat weight.
Age and gender don't matter; resistance training is essential for overall health. And the best part? It's never too late to start.
Boosting Resting Metabolism
Resistance training not only builds muscle but also impacts resting metabolism in two ways:
Increased Muscle Mass: With regular resistance training, your body requires more energy for ongoing muscle maintenance, increasing resting metabolic rate. An additional 1.0 kg of trained muscle might elevate resting metabolic rate by about 20 calories per day.
Acute Response: After a resistance training session, the micro-trauma to your muscles triggers energy expenditure for muscle remodeling processes, which can last up to 72 hours. Research shows a 7% increase in resting metabolic rate after several weeks of resistance training. Even a single resistance training session can lead to a 5% to 9% elevation in resting energy expenditure for up to three days.
Age Reversal and Type 2 Diabetes Prevention
Resistance training holds the key to reversing age-related decline in physical function. Elderly individuals who engaged in resistance training showed remarkable strength improvements, increased lean weight, and better functional independence.
Additionally, resistance training has been identified as a potential way to prevent type 2 diabetes, particularly for middle-aged and older adults.
Research suggests that resistance training enhances insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and glycemic control. It's recommended to incorporate higher-volume and higher-intensity protocols for better results. Resistance training can also aid in reducing body fat, with studies showing about 1.8 kg of fat loss accompanied by 1.4 kg of lean weight gain.
Building Strong Bones and Enhancing Mental Health
Osteoporosis, a condition characterised by low bone density, is a major concern, particularly among older adults. Muscle loss and bone loss often go hand in hand. Resistance training has been shown to increase bone mineral density (BMD) significantly, benefiting both younger and older individuals. The positive effects of resistance training also extend to mental health, reducing symptoms of depression, improving self-esteem, and enhancing cognitive abilities.
In conclusion, resistance training isn't just for bodybuilders or athletes; it's a powerful medicine for overall health. It reverses the effects of aging, prevents chronic diseases, enhances bone density, and even boosts mental well-being. It's a never-ending source of vitality, available to everyone, regardless of age or gender. So, why wait? Start your resistance training journey today for a healthier and happier you!