What happens to our bodies as we age?
From the age of 20, unless you actively participate in a regular strength training program, you will lose (or have already lost) muscle at the rate of 2.2kg to 3.2kg per decade. That's a scary thought when you think about it, since muscle is responsible for keeping your metabolism (your fat burning engine) fired up, as well as keeping your body strong and stable.
Some of the most common 'symptoms' of old age are:
- A decrease in bone strength – osteoporosis
- A decrease in joint stability and joint strength
- A decrease in strength
- A decrease in fitness
- A decrease in flexibility
- A decrease in muscles
- A decrease in metabolism
- An increase in fat stores
- An increased risk of arthritis
- An increased risk of adult onset diabetes
- An increased risk of lower back pain
- An increased risk of injury
- High Blood pressure
- Poor posture
- Poor stability
Now, you may think that these things are something that happens to everyone and is just a part of getting old that you have to accept, but science is providing that this is definitely not the case; if you regularly participate in a strength training program you can actually stop that old person from moving into your body!
The first thing that most people think of when you mention the words strength training or weight training is those dark, dingy gyms full of muscle bound men grunting and groaning and pouring with sweat; and in some cases that may be true – like in all aspects of life there are those people who love to take what they do to the extreme.
But I'm not going to tell you that that is what you need to do. In fact, what if I could tell you that you could make some positive changes from as little as 25 minutes per week! That's right, not per day – per week (of course if you can fit more in the benefits are even greater).
Research has shown that a typical response for men and women who do a standard 25 minute strength training program once a week, is an increase in muscle mass by about 1.4kg over an eight-week training period. Now since 1 gram of muscle is just over half the size of 1 gram of fat – which would you prefer?
So what does that mean in relation to all of the points I raised above with regards to getting older you might ask – well by increasing your muscle mass and keeping your body fit, you will actually get the opposite effect
By strength training from as little as just 25 minutes per week, you can actually:
- Increase bone strength – reduced risk of osteoporosis
- Increase joint stability and joint strength due the extra muscle support
- Increase strength
- Increase fitness
- Increase flexibility
- Increase muscle mass
- Increase metabolism
- Decrease risk of lower back pain
- Decrease fat stores – how good is that!
- Decrease risk of arthritis or decrease of symptoms of arthritis if you already have it
- Decrease risk of adult onset diabetes due to improved glucose uptake
- Decrease risk of injury
- Improve posture
- Improve stability
- Reduce blood pressure
Change your fat burning capacity from a 2-stroke lawnmower into a V8 engine!
The other fantastic benefit of strength training is that muscle is responsible for burning fat – so the more muscle you have the more fat you will burn. Research reveals that adding 1.4kg of muscle increases your resting metabolism by 7% and your daily calorie requirements by 15%. At rest, a kilo of muscle requires 77 calories per day for tissue maintenance, and during exercise the amount of energy muscle burns increases even more. So if you replace muscle through a sensible strength training program you will use more calories all day long, thereby reducing the likelihood of fat gain.
However, this also works in reverse; from the age of 20 if you do not do regular strength training you will lose approximately 250g of muscle per year – which means as you get older your fat burning capacity will turn from a V8 engine into a 2-stroke lawnmower!
So out of your entire week, which consist of 10,080 minutes, surely you can find at least 25 minutes to strength train when it means you are going to lead a much happier, healthier, leaner and longer life!