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The "X" Factor, Resistance "Strength" Training

By Michael Davis - CEO Elite Fitness Plus

If you had the perfect “type” of exercise that could increase cardiovascular / heart health, increase ones balance, decrease chance of injury, maintain flexibility, mental acuity, improve quality of sleep, improve posture, increase bone density, increase lean muscle, help you manage or lose fat weight, reverse your physiological aging clock, and made you look and feel better…Would you do it?

Despite its reputation as a "guy" or "jock" thing, strength training is a key component “The ‘X’ Factor” of overall health and fitness for everyone: male, female, young and old. States Dr. Laskowski co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strengthening “lifting weights” exercises are not only safe and effective for both men and women of all ages, but also those who are out of shape or deconditioned. The “CDC” states, particularly as we grow older strength training at least 3x/week is an essential tool in reducing the signs and symptoms of numerous diseases and chronic conditions, such as: heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, back pain, sarcopenia and / or depression.

Yes, Resistance Training Can Reverse the Aging Process, Len Kravitz, Ph.D.

Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age, usually starts around the age of 40. Sarcopenia can be defined as the natural age-related loss of muscle mass, strength and muscle function. Which costs the US health care system more than 18 billion dollars a year (Melov et al., 2007). "If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll will subsequently increase the percentage of fat in your body," But, strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass — at any age.

(MD Laskowski, Mayo Clinic). In turn preserving muscle mass will have all the aforementioned benefits.

Scientific research has shown that exercise can slow the physiological aging clock. While aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, has many excellent health benefits—it maintains the heart and lungs and increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance—it does not make your muscles strong. Strength training, “The ‘X’ factor”, does.

A group of scientist took a deeper look at the benefits of strength training, “The ‘X’ factor”, amongst 2 comparative groups: 25 younger (mean age 24) and 26 older (mean age 68) for 26 weeks. All subjects went through an extensive medical evaluation prior to participating in this study. In muscular strength, the peak isometric strength of the older population was initially 59% lower than the younger population. After 26 weeks of training, the older population peak strength was only 38% of the younger group. An improvement of 21% in a 26 week period. As the scientist dug down deeper into the cellular level (via Muscle Biopsy) the results were remarkable, demonstrating strength training can reverse aspects of aging not only on the surface but at the gene level: reduced markers of oxidative stress and increased the anti-oxidant enzyme activity, mitochondrial impairment (normally seen with inactivity) was reversing within the time-frame of this study, improvement in the muscles longevity profile at the molecular level, all proving quite literally there was proof of not only slowing, but an actual reversal process taking place at the subjects cellular level.

This is only one study out of many that prove long-term resistance training, “The ‘X’ factor”, is beneficial for all walks of life: conditioned, deconditioned, male, female, young or old. The science backs it, the benefits are many, and for those that are in the aging population, don’t wait, start reversing your age NOW!

Arthritis Relief

Tufts University recently completed a strength-training program with older men and women with moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis. The results of this sixteen-week program showed that strength training decreased pain by 43%, increased muscle strength and general physical performance, improved the clinical signs and symptoms of the disease, and decreased disability. The effectiveness of strength training to ease the pain of osteoarthritis was just as potent, if not more potent, as medications. Similar effects of strength training have been seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Restoration of Balance and Reduction of Falls

As people age, poor balance and flexibility contribute to falls and broken bones. These fractures can result in significant disability and, in some cases, fatal complications. Strengthening exercises, when done properly and through the full range of motion, increase a person's flexibility and balance, which decrease the likelihood and severity of falls. One study in New Zealand in women 80 years of age and older showed a 40% reduction in falls with simple strength and balance training.

Strengthening of Bone

Post-menopausal women can lose 1-2% of their bone mass annually. Results from a study conducted at Tufts University, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1994, showed that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk for fractures among women aged 50-70.

Proper Weight Maintenance

Strength training is crucial to weight control, because individuals who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories while stored fat uses very little energy. Strength training can provide up to a 15% increase in metabolic rate, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control.

Improved Glucose Control

More than 14 million Americans have type II diabetes—a staggering three-hundred percent increase over the past forty years—and the numbers are steadily climbing. In addition to being at greater risk for heart and renal disease, diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Fortunately, studies now show that lifestyle changes such as strength training have a profound impact on helping older adults manage their diabetes. In a recent study of Hispanic men and women, 16 weeks of strength training produced dramatic improvements in glucose control that are comparable to taking diabetes medication. Additionally, the study volunteers were stronger, gained muscle, lost body fat, had less depression, and felt much more self-confident.

Strength training provides similar improvements in depression as anti-depressant medications. Currently, it is not known if this is because people feel better when they are stronger or if strength training produces a helpful biochemical change in the brain. It is most likely a combination of the two. When older adults participate in strength training programs, their self-confidence and self-esteem improve, which has a strong impact on their overall quality of life.

Sleep Improvement

People who exercise regularly enjoy improved sleep quality. They fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, awaken less often, and sleep longer. As with depression, the sleep benefits obtained as a result of strength training are comparable to treatment with medication but without the side effects or the expense.

Healthy Heart Tissue

Strength training is important for cardiac health because heart disease risk is lower when the body is leaner. One study found that cardiac patients gained not only strength and flexibility but also aerobic capacity when they did strength training three times a week as part of their rehabilitation program. This and other studies have prompted the American Heart Association to recommend strength training as a way to reduce risk of heart disease and as a therapy for patients in cardiac rehabilitation programs.

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