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Neighbors of Kane County

Live Stronger

By Richard J. Wolff, RDN

In How Not to Die, author Michael Greger, M.D. writes that we're living longer, but we're living sicker.[1] While lifespan has increased, healthspan has decreased. In other words, we are living longer but suffering more. This trend has affected how we think about life. The age-old goal of living longer has changed. Instead, we seek quality over quantity. According to a study of older adults, Strength Training early in life can give us the quality we seek.[2] The research suggests adults should begin a Strength Training regimen as early as possible to maximize the benefits. Strength Training early in your lifecycle helps prevent age-related muscle loss, leading to disability and loss of independence.

A research team from the University of Michigan compiled data from 49 studies to determine that older adult's who strength train can build significant amounts of muscle, counteracting the muscle loss that is common in sedentary adults over age 50. The report, "Influence of Resistance Exercise on Lean Body Mass in Aging Adults: A Meta-Analysis," was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The findings of this analysis are significant, given the millions of U.S. adults affected by muscle loss, says Mark Petersons, lead author of the study.[2] The study recommends progressive Strength Training Programs that gradually increase the weight lifted to facilitate long-term muscle growth. The researchers reviewed over 5000 references for this analysis and selected studies with an average participant age of at least 50 years.

With so much at stake, the World Health Organization (WHO) has joined the cause to get more adults Strength Training. Earlier this year, the WHO updated its Guidelines for Physical Activity for the first time since 2010.[3] The updated guidelines are in a special edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.[4] In addition to recommending daily physical activity, the guidelines included a new focus on Strength Training. The updated guidelines draw attention to the importance of continuing to Strength Train as people age. The authors of the guidelines state that Strength Training has been largely forgotten or ignored in the past.[5]

The new guidelines emphasize the benefits of Strength Training over a lifetime, especially for older adults. According to Emmanuel Stamatakis, co-author and professor at the University of Sydney, "There is a specific recommendation on Strength Training because it is clear it has benefits that are over and above those of aerobic physical activity."[5] Fitness professionals agree that more adults need to embrace this reality. Long gone are the days when people only Strength Trained to improve appearance (i.e., muscle shape, tone, etc.). Today, adults appreciate both the cosmetic and health benefits that Strength Training provides. This change became evident with the Global Health Initiative: Exercise is Medicine (EIM), managed by the American College of Sports Medicine.[6] This vision of EIM is to make exercise assessment and promotion of a standard component of the health care system. Achieving this goal would go a long way towards getting adults to live the Strength Training Lifestyle. An example of the EIM model would be your primary care physician assessing your exercise, recommending it as lifestyle medicine, and referring you to an evidence-based exercise program as needed.

At MEDFITNESS, we support the EIM vision by providing educational resources and referral opportunities to local physicians, physical therapists, and chiropractors to help their patients live the Strength Training Lifestyle. Making progress with the EIM vision will help millions of adults live better!

MEDFITNESS is a Strength Training Studio specializing in Small Group Personal Training. To schedule a Free Trial Workout, call (630) 762-1784 or visit www.medfitnessworkout.com.

References

1. Gregor, M., 2015. How Not to Die. New York, N.Y., Flatiron Books

2. Weights Help Seniors Stay Independent Longer, Athletic Business Newswire, Tuesday, February 01, 2011

3. The effect of resistance training on health-related quality of life in older adults: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Health Promot Perspect. 2019; 9(1): 1–12. Published online 2019 January 23. DOI: 10.15171/hpp.2019.01

4. The effect of resistance training on health-related quality of life in older adults: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Health Promot Perspect. 2019; 9(1): 1–12. Published online 2019 January 23. DOI: 10.15171/hpp.2019.01

5. World Health Organization 2020 Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1451

6. Exercise is Medicine: A Global Health Initiative. https://www.exerciseismedicine.org/