Can Strength Training Help You Live Longer?

Build Muscle, Live Longer

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Building muscle by using either weights, bands or simply doing calisthenics can play a critical role in helping you remain healthy and living longer. A study from England showed that identical twins who exercised regularly were biologically 5 or 6 years younger than their siblings who didn’t exercise. Another recent study showed that strength training can reduce your risk of developing cancer. The data is in: anyone who is seriously interested in longevity needs to perform some type of strength training exercise.

If you don’t perform some type of strength training, it’s likely that you’ll lose about five pounds of muscle mass every decade. Losing muscle can lead to a host of health problems including increased body fat, decreased bone density, high blood pressure, heart disease and increased risk of diabetes. You’ll also find you have much less energy and a diminished quality of life.

Unless your job is physically demanding, you will need to do some type of exercise specifically designed to build muscle to maintain optimal health. You don’t need to spend hours every week at the gym to reap significant benefits either - just 20 minutes two or three times a week can be enormously helpful. You don’t need a lot of special equipment either. Excellent results can be obtained just doing calisthenics – exercises that use your own body weight as the resistance for your muscles. But you need to push yourself if you want to obtain the greatest benefit.

You can gain three pounds of muscle mass in only 12 weeks with just 40 to 60 minutes of strength training per week. Because muscle tissue is so much more metabolically active than fat, you may find that it’s a lot easier to lose weight while eating the same amount of food or that you can eat more and weigh the same. You might only burn a few hundred calories per week when you do your workouts, but the extra muscle tissue you build will burn calories for you 24/7.

I suggest doing three 15 -20 minute strength building workouts per week: an upper body workout, a lower body workout and one for your core. In future blogs, I’ll include more details about each of the workouts, but for now, I’d like you to begin by getting ready. If you’re over 40 and haven’t been exercising regularly or if you have any cardiac symptoms, high blood pressure or a strong family history of heart disease, see you doctor and get checked out to ensure that strength training exercise is safe for you.

Happy anti-aging!

Terry Grossman, M.D.

For more information about longevity medicine visit Dr. Grossman’s Web site

Last Updated:8/11/2009
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