Muscle strengthening linked to a lower risk of death

Participating in strength training and other forms of muscle-strengthening activities is an easy way to protect your health and reduce your risk of premature death. A systematic review and meta-analysis found that strength training was associated with a 21% lower all-cause mortality rate, and this increased to 40% when combined with aerobic exercise.1

A second systematic review and meta-analysis also found that muscle-strengthening activities were associated with a reduced incidence of kidney cancer and overall cancer mortality.2 While it is becoming increasingly clear that strength training benefits overall health, most existing guidelines for physical activity focus primarily on on its role in musculoskeletal health.

To help determine the optimal amount of strength training to be recommended for overall health, including the reduction of chronic disease and premature death, Japanese researchers set out to find the optimal dose of muscle-strengthening activities — and it turned out to be easily achievable.

Just 30 to 60 minutes a week reduces the risk of death

According to the meta-analysis, just 30 to 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening exercise per week is enough to lower the risk of death.3 It included 16 studies, which found that muscle-strengthening activities were associated with a 10% to 17% lower risk of death for all patients. causes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), total cancer, diabetes and lung cancer.

A j-shaped association was found for all-cause mortality, with maximum risk reduction occurring with approximately 30 to 60 minutes per week of muscle-strengthening activities, meaning there may be no additional benefit once you reach 60 minutes.

“The influence of a higher volume of muscle-strengthening activities on all-cause mortality, CVD and total cancer is unclear when looking at the observed J-shaped associations,” the researchers noted.4 For diabetes, an L-shaped association, with a large risk reduction before 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening activities per week, was found.

†[T]The risk of diabetes decreased sharply to 60 min/week muscle-strengthening activities, followed by a gradual decrease,” the study said.5 Muscle-strengthening activities combined with aerobic activities were also associated with a lower risk from all causes, CVD and total cancer death, with the researchers explaining:

“Joint analysis between muscle strengthening and aerobic activities showed that greater benefit for all-cause, CVD and total cancer mortality was obtained when these two types of activities were combined. These results confirm the findings of previous meta-analyses. Therefore, muscle-strengthening activities, in addition to aerobic activities, may provide additional benefits to prevent mortality.”

Greater muscle strength predicts lower mortality risk

Building your muscle strength can help ward off cardiometabolic risks. Previous research has shown that a higher level of muscle strength has a protective effect against premature death from any cause and high blood pressure in men. It’s also linked to a lower risk of cancer death, metabolic syndrome, and age-related weight and fat gain

A systematic review and meta-analysis involving 38 studies and more than 1.9 million participants also found that higher levels of upper and lower body muscle strength are associated with a lower risk of death.7

Specifically, higher levels of handgrip strength were linked to lower all-cause mortality, while adults with greater muscle strength, as tested by a knee extension strength test, had a 14% lower risk of death compared to adults with lower muscle strength. Even among people aged 65 and older, mortality and hospitalization were significantly lower in stronger men and women

Why is strength training so good for longevity?

Exercise, especially strength training with blood flow restriction (BFR), is one of the best ways to increase nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) levels and energy9 because it activates NAMPT, an enzyme responsible for NAD biosynthesis.

NAD is an essential signaling molecule10 believed to play an important role in longevity. This is due in part to its role as an essential substrate for sirtuins,11 which are enzymes associated with longevity, and to its role in DNA repair.

More specialized techniques such as BFR training are already being used by the NFL and other major professional sports organizations for recovery and rehabilitation. BFR training improves strength and builds muscle with very light weights, while metabolically reducing the risk of sarcopenia and most other age-related diseases, making it especially helpful for the elderly. Researchers explained in Frontiers in Physiology:12

“Performing reduced blood flow exercises achieved by restricting the vascular system proximal to the muscle dates back to Dr. Yoshiaki Sato in Japan, where it was known as “kaatsu training,” meaning “training with extra pressure.” is now performed all over the world and is more commonly referred to as “BFR training” and accomplished using a pneumatic tourniquet system.

Boost your strength with BFR

Download interview transcript

The World Health Organization recommends doing muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week, based primarily on the benefits it can provide for musculoskeletal health. However, the meta-analysis shown suggests that it may also be enough to lower your risk of chronic disease and premature death:13

“Given this result, the current recommendation of a minimum of 2 days per week could be reasonable, although a higher volume requires caution. However, our findings should be interpreted with caution because the number of included studies was small and we were unable to directly investigate the frequency of muscle strengthening activities…

In addition, consideration should also be given to the evidence that most programs that provide benefits for musculoskeletal health in the elderly are conducted 2 days per week.”

One way to maximize your strength training is to use BFR, which partially restricts arterial inflow and adjusts venous outflow while exercising your limb muscles. In short, BFR replaces the mechanical stress of weightlifting with metabolic stress, leading to benefits comparable to high-intensity exercise, making it especially helpful for people who are unable to lift heavy loads, including the elderly and injured, or people starting alone.

With BFR you can use zero to 30% of your maximum weight for one rep and still significantly improve strength and muscle mass because you are essentially fooling your body into believing you are lifting a heavier weight than you actually are.

During BFR training, slow twitch type I muscle fibers become highly fatigued, requiring the recruitment of type II fast muscle fibers as exercise progresses, leading to both short and long-term benefits, including increased strength, muscle thickness, and cardiovascular endurance, along with improved physiology of the cardiovascular system

Super Slow Weight Training is another option

Just about anyone can benefit from muscle-strengthening activities, even if you’re older, frail, or unable to lift a lot of weight. In the latter case, super-slow weight training may be ideal. By slowing down your movements, it turns your strength training into a high-intensity exercise.

People of all ages can benefit from super slow training, but this is certainly one way to consider whether you are middle-aged or older. I recommend using four or five compound basic moves for your super slow (high intensity) training set. Compound moves are movements that require coordination of different muscle groups, for example squats, chest presses and compound rows. Here’s my version of the technique.

Start by lifting the weight as slowly and gradually as you can, such as a four-second positive and a four-second negative, meaning it takes four seconds, or a slow count to four, to raise the weight, and then again. once four seconds to lower it. (If you push, stop about 10 to 15 degrees before your limb is fully extended; smoothly reverse direction) Slowly lower the weight back to the slow count of four. Repeat until you’re exhausted, which should be about four to eight reps. Once you’re exhausted, don’t try to lift or jerk the weight to get one last rep. Instead, keep trying to produce the movement, even if it’s not going anywhere, for another five seconds or so. If you use the right amount of weight or resistance, you can do eight to 10 reps Immediately switch to the next exercise for the next target muscle group and repeat the first three steps

Support optimal muscle synthesis with Whey

Optimal nutrition is important to reap all the benefits of muscle-strengthening activities. Amino acids from proteins are particularly important in this process, as they act as the raw material or “building blocks” of your muscles while also playing a role in the growth of new muscle. Leucine in particular has been established as an amino acid with greater anabolic properties

The richest source of leucine, which helps regulate protein conversion in your muscles, is whey protein. The elderly not only have accelerated muscle loss, but also require a higher protein intake to stimulate maximum muscle protein synthesis compared to younger people.16

For example, while the muscle protein synthesis rate of healthy young adults increases by about 75% after ingesting 20 grams of protein, older adults need about 40 grams of protein to experience a similar increase.17

Without whey, it can be difficult to get enough leucine to maintain body protein by dieting alone. Fortunately, when combined with exercise, whey is an easy option for older adults looking to maintain and increase muscle mass.

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