It's Never To Late To Start Strength Training: Anti-Aging Benefits From Exercise
By Andy Pilides
The majority of the population believes that their ageing process is inevitable. Piling on the fat, losing muscle mass, developing weaker bones and joints are almost now accepted by the mainstream as part of life. Disease and illnesses sadly are becoming just something we associate with ageing and are considered to be part of the whole degenerating process.
Although age as a number is certain, a cleverly crafted strength training program can reduce and prevent the chances of developing physical and mental ageing. Exercise will keep your heart healthy, your muscles strong and ensure that you can keep a lean and brain sharp body. Strength training really is the tool to keeping your body strong and is the best natural and effective agent for anti-ageing. It's also superior to any supplement, drug or cosmetic surgery. Strength training has the capacity to target your cells, DNA and genes to keep you looking younger and more energised well into your future years.
Below are four reasons why you too should take up strength training as an anti-ageing tool
1.Increased Bone Density - It's a fact, if we don't take part in weight barring activities our bones will become weaker. Exercising using your bodyweight as a minimum will help you reduce this and develop stronger and healthier bones. After the age of 35 there is a decline of 1% in your bone density, this continues to decrease every year thereafter, yet females going through the menopause will likely lose the most. However, research has shown resistant training over running, swimming and cycling can help elderly people increase bone density by 1%. Beginning an exercise program that incorporates progressive loading on the structure is advisory for preventing the ageing process of your skeletal system. This is not to say that the above activities wont help the process but rather strength training being superior for this purpose. (1)
2.Maintenance of Muscle & Strength - Essentially 'use it or you'll lose it!' Scientists strongly believe that Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass with age) is associated with degeneration of the neuromuscular system. This finding is contrary to the expected muscular system deterioration problem, which most individuals believe to be linked to Sarcopenia. As a result of this finding we can now see a connection between strength and mental status and educate ourselves to recognise Sarcopenia as not an inevitable part of the ageing process. By developing your strength and muscles you also train your neuromuscular system to become efficient. Scientists also believe that the stronger you are the longer you will live. One thing they stated was that, as you become weaker the chances of falling ill increased. This is because there's also a direct link between neuromuscular efficiency, muscle mass and immune health. A properly pieced strength-training program should help prevent weakness from setting in throughout your life. It must be stated however, that strength training should be a supplement to an aerobic program and not used as a replacement. The two work together. (2)
3.Aiding a Lean Body Composition - Tying in with the point above, exercise in general will help keep a lean physique. Maintaining a healthy body fat level will do wonders for areas such as your confidence and always gives the feel good factor. Also in tandem with the above point, muscle mass and strength will improve metabolic rate, which is something we leak as we age. Staying lean becomes easier with a strong metabolic rate and so point 2 and 3 work closely together to ensure your anti-ageing process is positive. (3)
4.Better Cognitive Function - Strength training aids neuromuscular development and so it's heavily linked with increasing brain function. As we age it's common to hear people suffering from brain disorders such as Alzheimer's and Dementia, however taking part in regular strength training exercises can significantly reduce your chances of developing such kind of disorders. Furthermore, strength training has shown to decrease the chances of people developing symptoms linked with depression and anxiety, which can speed up the ageing process. Strength training will aid the anti-aeging process and should be seen as a vital component to every person's life. (4)
(1) Almstedt, H.C., Canepa, J.A., Ramirez, D.A., & Shoepe, T.C. (2011). Changes in bone mineral density in response to 24 weeks of resistance training in college-age men and women. Journal Of Strength & Conditioning Research , 25 (4), 1098-1103.
(2) Ruiz, J.R., Sui, X., Lobelo, F., Morrow Jr., J.R., Jackson, A.W., Sjöström, M. & Blair, S.N. (2008). Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal, 337:a439
(3) Peterson, M.J., Giuliani, C., Morey, M.C., Pieper, C.F., Evenson, K.R., Mercer, V., Cohen, H.J., Visser, M., Branch, J.S., Kritchevsky, S.B., Goodpaster, B.H., Ruben, S., Satterfield, S., Newman, A.B., & Simonsick, E.M. (2009). Physical activity as a preventative factor for frailty: The health, aging and body composition study. The Journals Of Gerontology 64A, (1), 61-68.
(4) Nagamatsu, L.S., Handy, T.C., Hsu, C.L., Voss, M., & Ambrose, T. (2012). Resistance training promotes cognitive and functional brain plasticity in seniors with probable mild cognitive impairment: A 6-month randomized controlled study. Journal Of American Medicine Association, 178(8), 666-668.