Weight Training, Longevity and Life Quality – What To Do
I spent a lot of time this morning thinking about death. The slow eroding feeling of my body crapping out on me, losing my basic functions and no longer being able to do the things I take for granted now like taking lizzie for a 60 minute walk, or hanging out with Sarah doing nothing, but doing everything.
The idea of losing my ability to squat, deadlift and make consistent strength gains scares the absolute shit out of me, and I got to thinking about how terrifying that must be for everyone.
…and then I realised most people don’t even know they have it to lose.
We take our bodies for granted, perform no basic maintenance on them and expect them to keep operating like they did in their youth forever, and then one day we wake up old wondering where it all went wrong.
We don’t get old and stop moving, we stop moving and get old.
As I start my journey into my early 30s (31 in 11 days!) I start to understand more the concerns of the 40 and 50 year olds who join us at RevFit. I probably won’t FULLY understand it for another 10-20 years, but I can definitely get a feel for the thought process.
“this stomach is really getting out of hand now, why am I so sore all the time? this can’t be the end of me feeling youthful can it? am I actually old now? etc etc”
During a conversation with a personal training client this morning I made a few points which I think might be helpful for you to consider today.
#1 – MUSCLE SIZE IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST FACTORS IN HOW LONG YOU’LL LIVE, AND THE QUALITY OF THE LIFE YOU’LL HAVE
There’s 3 primary things that will influence how long you live, and how much QUALITY you get out of those years. The first is v02 max – the ability of your body to take in and use oxygen. It’s “aerobic fitness”. Can you move for long periods of time at a relatively light intensity without needing to stop – it’s super important for heart and lung health.
The second is lower limb strength and reaction time. The quicker you’re able to move your feet, and the stronger your legs are once you plant them, the more secure you are against falls and tumbles. “Catching yourself” as you fall is the most potent life enhancing thing I know of once you get into your 60s and 70s.
The final thing is – body composition. Your muscle to fat ratio. The more muscle you carry and less fat you have (within reason, I’m not saying you have to look like a bodybuilder), the better your health outcomes will be.
And that makes a lot of sense – to have good body composition (approx. 15% for guys and 22-23% for ladies) you have to eat really good food in quantities that support your exercise and activity levels, and follow a structured weight training and fitness program.
#2 – AS WE AGE, WE LOSE MUSCLE & BONE STRENGTH
To the best of my knowledge, no one REALLY knows when we start to lose muscle mass exactly, but most agree it’s at some point in your 30s. Without proper maintenance you lose 3-5% of your total muscle mass per decade. By the time you’re 70 you could be 12-20% short of current muscle levels.
That’s scary for a couple of reasons.
One, strong muscles mean strong bones. Especially important for any ladies reading this. Strength training exerts a “pulling” force on bone, and the bone responds by getting stronger. Tell osteoporosis to kiss your sexy ass.
Two, strong muscle means healthy joints and better function. If you can get your body to work properly in the patterns it was designed to move, you minimise joint wear and tear. I know quite a few people who’s quality of life has been completely flipped thanks to joining a gym for this exact reason.
#3 – IT’S LOW IMPACT AND SCALEABLE
Literally EVERY able bodied adult can do some form of resistance training (hell most people with physical disabilities can too), It’s just about finding the right starting point.
For your fit and healthy 50 year old, that might be getting better at push ups and eventually doing 10-20 high quality ones off your feet.
And for you 80 year old wheelchair bound granny that might just be placing her hands against yours and slowly pushing into them as you provide a bit of resistance.
My point is, regardless of level, there’s something you can be doing to improve. It just takes a bit of thinking around the issue to find suitable variations.
And if you DO have an existing problem, like a knee or hip issue, an exercise program should be modifiable to take account of that and facilitate continuous improvement without hurting you.
(…try going for a run or playing sport in that situation and tell me how it feels)
The best part of all of it tho is that it’s very sociable. Especially if you’re in a group personal training environment like RevFit. It’s nice to be out somewhere around similar people having a laugh that’s not a noisy bar or other shit hole like that (…god I do sound old now).
My basic point today is this;
– getting fitter and stronger will stem the tide of time
– a good program is scaleable for individual needs
– it’s not about how long you live, it’s about how GOOD those years are
– fast strong feet = less falls
– strong muscles mean healthy bones and joints
That’s it. Maybe send this on to someone you know. It might help.
At RevFit we specialise in taking people with limited or no weight training experience and getting them strong, fit and healthy fast. We do it by teaching you the safest way to lift weights after performing a thorough evaluation of where you’re at now.
This allows us to work around any existing injuries, and teach you how to move your body the correct way for long term success.
If you want to find out more about how we do things, book in for a private intro session and get a free 7 day test drive of our program, head over here to book a session: http://revolutionfitness.ie/pt-intro/