This is a guest post by Dave Kwiecinski.
Your New Love — Strength Training?!?
My job is to get every single one of you to fall in love.
With strength training.
Only because every single research study comes to the same conclusion:
Strength training enhances your life!
There. I’m done! Have a nice day.
Sigh… okay. (You asked for it!)
I won’t bore you citing specific research (let me know if you care to dive deeper), but they’re plentiful, studies done recently, studies done way before I got in the best shape of my life. Early 40s. Transformed from scrawny, bean-countin’ CPA who hated the weight room since high school to personal trainer.
They’ll tell you that regular exercise has been shown to “decrease mortality and age-related morbidity.” Yeah, that means death. And plain ol’ unhealthiness.
Despite all that research, only about one in four older adults exercise as often as they should.
That’s a whole lotta people. Especially with an aging population. Sad. Because strength training not only makes you less likely to die sooner than to those who don’t, it also improves your life.
For one, strength training allows you to do simple things easier. I mean, like, elementary simple. Like picking yourself up off the floor. Like staying upright so you don’t have to pick yourself up off the floor!
Yes, age is eventually going to take its toll on all of us. But strength training will help you get through every day of your life just a little bit easier.
And It’ll slow – or reverse – the aging process.
Here’s an example.
Look at the way many older people walk. You know the folks I’m talking about. They widen their stance and shorten their stride.
Balance. Balance is highly complex and affected by many things. One key component as you age? Muscle strength.
Their leg strength isn’t what it used to be. Instinctively, Mother Nature takes over, trying to get them to slow down, using leverage to keep them on their feet instead of sprawled out on the pavement.
Research indicates a strong relationship between the loss of balance and risk of falls
with the loss of leg strength.
Ever notice how kids walk? Long, narrow strides. Straight ahead. Narrow line. They’re almost running while walking.
Well, they’re better balanced. Their vision is sharper. Their senses and nerves are keener. Typically not suffering from illnesses, diseases, or taking medication that might impair their balance.
They’re also stronger.
Would you believe studies actually prove that persons who walk slower are at a higher risk for hip fracture? Because they’re more likely to fall sideways or backward.
The faster you walk, the less likely you are to fracture your hip.
So what do you do about it? How do you pick up the pace?
Simple. Work on two things:
They might sound like the same thing. They’re related. But they’re different.
Your muscles need to be stronger. You also need to develop the speed with which you move them.
Simple, silly example:
If you’re trying to move a mountain (yeah, a real mountain) and you push it, the mountain won’t budge (unless as Jesus says, you have faith, but that’s a topic for a different conversation). You’re exerting maximum force. But the speed of movement is zero. Remember, this is a strength exercise because you’re exerting force, just no velocity.
You’re outside. It’s a really warm day. The wind is calm. You’re trying to push this dang mountain. And it ain’t going anywhere! All this exertion is making the sweat drip down your face and you feel like you’re head is on fire. You just need a little relief! So you wave your hands in front of your face as fast as you can. There’s nothing to resist your hands waving except the air molecules floating invisibly in front of you. Your hands move as fast as you can wave them.
Maximum velocity. No resistance. Minimal force.
Power is the ability to combine force (the “weight” you’re moving) and velocity.
The faster you can move the heaviest resistance you can bear is your maximum power.
That’s why kids seem to run while they’re walking. And why frail older adults do everything they can to stay upright as they move only as fast as they’re willing to risk.
Two extremes to make the point. Strength training improves your life.
Maximum power for a healthy guy who’s been in the gym most of his adult life is going to be a lot different than the 40-something lady reading this who decides to give strength training a try for the first time in her life.
You know what’s really cool?
The benefits for her are likely to be more life-changing than for him.
And don’t think these benefits are something you can comfortably ignore until you’re in your 50s, 60s, or 70s.
Do you know when you begin to lose muscle mass?
Studies show (oh, there he goes with his infamous unnamed studies again…) that if you’re a couch potato who doesn’t get much exercise:
Muscle mass reaches its peak in your 20s and begins to decline around the age of 30.
So the old adage “use it or lose it” applies to your muscles for sure!
Let’s summarize the good news.
Even if you’re a reluctant exerciser, you don’t have to spend hours at the gym.
You don’t even have to go to the gym!
You don’t even need to do it every day in order to notice positive changes. However, many people love the changes and actually want to do more.
And most exciting:
The best strength training program is simple and uncomplicated.
Oh sure, there are strategies that will enhance your results and some health and medical conditions require special consideration. But if you can breathe and are the least bit mobile, you can improve the quality of your life with strength training.
What’s not to love about that? Are you already strength training? Perhaps you’re convinced to make it lifestyle. Share your view in the comments.
Dave is a Copywriter, Storyteller, and aspiring Catholic apologist. He and wife, Kathy, live in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois. They have 5 adult children, 9 grands, and 5 cats. He’s also a personal fitness consultant, recovering after decades as a financial planner and CPA. Find him online at thephilosophyofdave.wordpress.com and davekfitness.com.