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Sunday, March 24 2019

The importance of strength training

According to a study done at Penn State University College of Medicine, Penn State Health Medical Center, and Columbia University, older adults who met twice weekly strength training guidelines had lower odds of dying.  Is one of the keys to a longer life strength training?  In previous decades it was the rewards of aerobic exercise that were emphasized.  However, for the past decade, more research appears to show that strength training has at least as much importance if not more than aerobic training. 


The NHIS (National Health Interview Survey) collects overall health, disease, and disability data of the U.S. population from a nationally representative sampling of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Dr. Jennifer Kraschnewski assistant professor of medicine and public health sciences, Penn State College of Medicine examined data from the 1997-2001 NHIS and linked it to death certificate data through 2011.  The study included more than 30,000 adults age 65 and older.  The survey revealed only 9% of the adults reported strength training twice a week.  However, those who did had 46% lower odds of death for any reason and 19% lower odds of dying from cancer.  The study showed strong evidence that strength training in older adults was beneficial beyond improving muscle strength and physical function. 


The benefits of strength training go beyond just longevity.  Postmenopausal women can lose 1-2% of their bone mass annually and all adults on average lose about 3-8% of our muscle mass each decade.  A study from Tufts University showed that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk for fractures among women aged 50-70.  This in turn decreases frailty and the chance of disability.  Individuals who strength train also have more muscle mass which equals about a 15% higher metabolic rate to maintain muscle mass.  Therefore, calories are used to maintain that metabolic rate rather than converting to fat, and this decreases the chances of diabetes and obesity.  Strength training also acts in a positive way against depression and quality of sleep.  These same results were found in a study at UCLA that was published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2014 after studying data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted between 1988 and 1994.  It studied 3659 individuals and according to Dr. Arun Karlamangla it confirms that muscle mass index determined through bioimpedance testing was a far better indicator of risk of mortality and a far better indicator that the commonly accepted B.M.I. (Body Mass Index based solely on height and weight) ratio that most physicians look at. 


Another study in the Journal of Rheumatology in July 2001 involving 46 patients has shown that high intensity home based progressive strength training improved the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. 71% of the patients showed improvement in knee extension strength and 36% reported a reduction in pain, and a 38% improvement in physical function.  This compared to a control group who reported just 11% and 21% for the same variables. 


Lastly, in the International Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study researchers measured grip strength in nearly 140,000 adults in 17 countries and followed their health for an average of four years.  A hand dynamometer was used to assess grip strength.  The findings were for each 11-pound decrease in grip strength equaled a 16% higher risk of dying from any cause, a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, a 9% higher risk of dying of stroke, and a 7% higher risk of heart attack.  Interestingly, grip strength was a better predictor of death of cardiovascular disease then blood pressure.  These findings were published in the medical journal The Lancet


If someone wanted to start strength training, they should be aware that it is never too late to start, and they don’t have to lift weights to achieve results. Strength training is exerting force and overcoming resistance.  That resistance could be exercises using dumbbells or other weights, your own body weight, doing yoga, exercise bands or tubing, or even carrying a load such as a weighted vest or wearing ankle weights. 


The Power Factor

In addition to strength training another method of training is called Power Training.  This uses speed as a part of the training equation.  It is the ability to generate force as fast as possible.  Strength training and power training are similar in that both exert force, but power training differs in that it incorporates speed into the movement.  Ironically power lifting isn’t about power training because the goal is simply to lift the heaviest weight one time.  There are no extra points for speed.  On the other hand, something like swimming and running are forms of power training because the goal is to move yourself through a distance as quickly as possible.   Plyometrics training involves jumping and moving through movements quickly and or H.I.I.T. (high intensity interval training), are ways in which to increase power in the muscular system. 


Final Thoughts

By increasing strength and mobility, you can prolong your life and the quality of those years with a strength building workout done twice a week.  It is never too late to start this age erasing habit.  It improves self-confidence and self-esteem, and all of this has an impact on overall quality of life. 


If you want to start a resistance training program, I have in my office a software program called Exercise Pro that offers thousands of exercises that could be refined for you.  I also have a hand dynamometer that could reveal your grip strength and give you some instant feedback about your grip strength for your age group.

Posted by: Dr, Goldstein AT 09:36 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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