Give the Body What It Needs: Muscle Change with Strength Training

July 17, 2014

First my apologies! This has not exactly been a “weekly” blog lately.  Some days off here and there and I seemed to have lost some weeks. 

A patient told me this week, “Even if you just post a quick note to tell us to get off our glueteus maximus – that will work!”   I am glad these posts are helpful for some of you!  

I am back on track now…. Thank you for your patience!

Let’s continues our series on how to Give the Body What It Needs.

A patient recently sent me an article from the American Journal of MedicineMuscle Mass Predicts Longevity in Older Adults.

Great timing as today’s post is about how exercise–specifically strength training–gives the muscles what they need. Last time we focused on cardiovascular exercise.  Strength training gives the muscles something else they need, that cardiovascular exercise does not.

It turns out that Body Mass Index (BMI), according to this study, does not predict whether someone is going to live longer after age 55 for men and 65 for women, but the amount of muscle a person has does make a big difference!  The more muscle you have, the lower your risk of dying from any cause.

BMI does not tell about how much muscle and fat is in the body, only body weight for height.  And it is not easy to tell if we have lost muscle. The scale does not tell us that we lost or gained muscle.

So how do we know if we have lost muscle? We are weaker, our metabolism seems slower, we seemed to get injured easily, daily tasks are more tiring, posture is worse, knees and back hurt more, bones fracture more easily–all signs of muscle loss.  Signs of muscle gain are the opposite.

The thing is, muscles NEED to be used.  After age 40, we need to work a bit harder to keep our muscles, and they REALLY NEED to be used on a regular basis.  Doing cardiovascular exercise does not do it well enough.

If you want to age well, stay independent, do all kinds of great things in retirement, and keep excess weight off, you are counting on your muscles to be there when you need them.

Use it or lose it definitely applies here!  Big time!

Strength training–challenging every muscle fiber you can on a regular basis–gives the muscles what they need so they are there for you.

The Prescription:  8-12 repetitions, 1-3 sets of exercises for all major muscle groups 2-3 days a week (but not two days in a row. Do it every other day.)

So the next time you are doing strength training (like… today? or tomorrow?) as you challenge your muscles,  think of it as simply giving the muscles what they need.

Give them what they need – you get what you want.

It really is that simple.

Keep Moving, Be Well!

Janet

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