10 Reasons Why You Should Do More Strength Training and Cardio

300px-Diagram_of_the_human_heart_(cropped)_svgI have been looking back on some of my recent strength training sessions as well as the interval training I have been doing on the cardio side. We have a tendency, with exercise, to judge if it’s working by what the bathroom scale currently reads. But that should not be the case; weight loss does not always depict the full story. With each bout of exercise, we are improving various physiological and psychological aspects of our body that are not visible to the naked eye. For example:

Strength Training:

  • Building muscle mass can increase metabolism by 15% – so if you’re looking to rev up that slow metabolism and become or stay functional as you age – you need to be strength training at least a few times each week.
  • Prevents Sarcopenia – which is the loss of muscle mass as you age – you can lose up to 10% or more of your muscle per decade after age 50.
  • Plays a role in disease prevention – like type 2 diabetes for example.
  • Improves the way your body moves resulting in better balance and less falls as you age (you can reduce your risk for falling by 40%).
  • Preserves the loss of muscle during weight loss (Donnelly et al., 2003)
  • Will offset bone loss as you age – women can expect to lose 1% of their bone mass after age 35 (and this increases following menopause) – see Strong Women, Strong Bones

Cardiovascular Exercise:

  • Aerobic exercise will improve your mood by decreasing stress and anxiety levels – read The Inner Runner by Jason Karp, Phd and Exercise for Mood and Anxiety by Michael Otto, Phd and Jasper Smits, PhD
  • Regular cardio exercise like jogging, hiking, jump roping etc will “load” your bones in your lower extremity and make them stronger.
  • Makes your heart stronger, lowers your resting heart rate and enables your body to deliver oxygen more efficiently to your working muscles.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine states that higher levels of cardiovascular fitness are associated with approximately a 50% reduction in disease risk.

Reference:

Donnelly, J.E., Jakicic, J.M., Pronk, N., Smith, B.K., Kirk, E.P., Jacobsen, D.J., Washburn, R. “Is Resistance Training Effective for Weight Management?” Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine. 2003; 1(1): 21-29.

How Strength Training Can Prevent Sarcopenia

We are not entirely sure what actually blesses our life with longevity. Yes, we are able to determine some factors via science, plus life expectancy is constantly on the rise, but there still isn’t a tool which can accurately measure our expiry date, or pinpoint the exact time of our death, technically speaking. However, there have been loads of surveys which tell us that almost every single person in the world doesn’t want to know how long it will take him or her to kick the bucket to begin with.

It is that unyielding dilemma which forces us to find ways to extend our vitality as much as we possibly can, so we resort to all manner of methods to keep our skin young and our bodies stout. And what is the first sign of aging? Well, apart from the laugh lines, the crow’s feet, and other hints, there is a medical condition which easily signifies the decline of health – sarcopenia. It is a slow and gradual loss of both skeletal and muscle mass which starts to kick in after the age of 30. Sadly, no one is exempt from this natural physiological change, and it is not pathological like a disease or syndrome, but there are ways to suppress its effects and hold the beast at bay, nevertheless.

You’ve probably seen or heard about elderly people up to the age of 100 who have either finished a marathon, maintained a buff, chiseled body, done an amazing athletic feat, or just defied their impending frailty by tirelessly working on their physique and keeping in shape. Honestly, whenever you witness something like that, the hat goes instantly down. We can all learn a thing or two from such experiences, so let’s see exactly how fitness prevents sarcopenia.

Bone density

The slow decay known as bone loss speeds up for both men and women during mid-life. Now, it is not something you should be scared of, considering that it is a natural occurrence, but you should tackle it head on and postpone its effects instead. Remember, we are talking about your body here, so you have all the threads to pull in your favor. For most women, increased bone loss ensues after menopause, because that is when estrogen levels drop sharply. It is said that women ages 65 to 70 who experience a fracture around the hip-joint are five times more likely to die within a year than women of the same age who don’t experience a fracture around the hip-joint. As for men, well, their skeleton is larger, loss starts later and progresses more slowly, and they do not have a period of rapid hormonal change, but that does not exempt them from the condition.

Muscle density

By the time we reach our seventies, we lose a tad more than half of our muscle mass, which explains why we feel weak and easily tire as we age. This is the main reason why strength training can prevent this occurrence, which not only keeps your muscles active and dense, but it also helps slow down the process of bone loss, too. A study has been conducted showing that postmenopausal women, who took part in a strength-training program for just one year, noticed significant improvement of their spine and hip – something which sarcopenia devours if allowed. Men (and women) who lift steel will experience a rise in testosterone levels, which is crucial for building lean mass and boosting metabolic activity. Working on your physique despite your age can greatly influence your body’s recovery, so do not shy away from breaking a sweat every now and then.

Utilize an effective strength training program and develop a diet

Two types of training are essential while creating your own strength training program. One of them is aerobic exercises, but they are not enough for maintaining an aging adults’ health. That is why resistance exercises or weight training is necessary to complete the program which will help defy aging. Apart from enhancing metabolic rate, such a combination of trainings also improve posture, immune response, and bone strength. There is even a new research which states that working on your body also helps battle cancer and heart disease. So if you want to prepare your body against slow degeneration, make sure to find a routine which suits you first, and just go one step at a time.

resistance_training
Credit: http://youplus.com

Diet is also a necessary part in this battle, because it supplies your body with much needed nutrients which will enable you to endure all your hardships and help improve your results. Remember, the building block of muscle mass is protein, so aim to eat a meal at least once a day which has adequate amounts of this macronutrient, crucial for muscle cell regeneration. Also, do not hesitate to supply yourself with bodybuilding supplements, because they provide you with much needed nutrients that cannot be easily found in everyday meals.

Conclusion

The digital world in which we live right now doesn’t require us to move, to be active, if we are to get some things done. That may be the downside, but it is not all that gloomy. Laziness is a condition that can be easily treated. Some people may just need a good old push to go out and actually do something with themselves and their bodies. Still, technology has enabled us to discuss all manner of things, even if it may be an inevitable little beast like sarcopenia, but at least we can all exchange our experiences and figure out what we can actually do about it. Trainings will pay off if you stay the course and remain diligent. What is most important is to just keep moving and staying alive.

Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Follow him on Twitter.

The Importance of Regular Exercise as You Age

If you’re an aging baby boomer like me (born between 1946 and 1964), you probably feel, at times, the adverse effects that aging can have on your body. If you’re looking to feel better as you age and help prevent what is commonly referred to as boomeritisthen you need to exercise and be smart about what you’re doing and how long you’re doing it. The variable that most people don’t understand, however, is the volume aspect. When you’re ready to increase the volume of work, do so in a safe, progressive manner (i.e. no more than a 5-10% increase per week) and your body will return the favor by feeling more energized come next workout.

older high hurdlerWith aging, comes the onslaught of body fat and loss of muscle and strength. As you age you lose muscle (known as sarcopenia) and add body fat (it’s inevitable like death and taxes). Consistent exercise, especially strength training will help retard (slow down) the process. Why exercise? Because the average person between age 30 and 60 tends to add about one to two pounds of body weight each year if exercise and nutritional modification are not in the picture. The small weight gain may not seem like a big deal, I know, but that’s an additional 30 pounds or more over that time period. This tends to put more stress on your heart and may negatively effect other parts of the body as well. Couple that with the loss of muscle at a rate of about half-a-pound per year (five pounds per decade) and you have a real uphill battle in front of you. The magic pill that is available for you is exercise, especially strength training. Building strength as you age will not only fight off sarcopenia but will also keep your metabolism elevated and maintain functionality and improve balance. If you’re not currently doing any of this…start now…start slowly…be progressive…and most importantly, be consistent. Here is a great paper I recently re-read on sarcopenia (also read R. Roubenoff).

Effects of Strength Training on Aging

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Source: http://www.worldhealth.net

Research from the field of exercise science has shown that we tend to lose roughly half a pound or more of muscle each year starting around the third to fourth decade of life depending on activity level. This may not sound like much to you but after a decade your down five pounds or more of metabolically active muscle tissue. In order to prevent this from happening you need to perform progressive strength training on a regular basis 2-3 times each week for the rest of your life!

Research from the University of Michigan Medical School has shown that through regular strength training, over a five month period, subjects were able to add 2.5 lbs. of lean muscle mass. The meta-analysis looked at 39 different strength training studies than included more than 1,300 individuals who were age 50 or older.

Let me ask you a question. If you knew you were losing muscle mass as you age and that this negtively effected your balance and overall functionality and that a magic pill – strength training – would prevent this from happening…would you give it a try?

Source: NPR Health, Seniors Can Still Bulk Up On Muscle By Pressing Iron, by Patti Neighmond.

Suggested Reading

Yes, Resistance Training Can Reverse the Aging Process, Len Kravitz, PhD

Aging Skeletal Muscle: Physiologic Changes and the Effects of Training

7 Tips from Fitness Expert Michael Wood, CSCS

MW headshot 2 copy 2One of the great things about life is the ability to continue to learn as you get older and this also holds true when applied to your own personal health and fitness. After more than 25 years in the fitness industry I have learned a few tricks of the trade along the way and here are a few of them that I focused on this past year, give them a try.

Challenge Mind and Body with New Activity. You may be into yoga, running, biking, swimming or taking exercises classes and whatever it is that’s great because they all help you clear your mind, burn calories and keep you moving. The key is to stimulate your mind, body and spirit each day with one of my favorite eight letter words: movement, activity or exercise. A few activities that I seem to have gravitated towards during the past year were stand-up paddle board, walking or running stadium stairs and snow-shoeing (with poles). I highly recommend you try them or find a new activity that will engage your mind and challenge your body.

Start Wearing a Pedometer. A pedometer is ideal for helping you increase your daily activity. I have been wearing a Fitbit pedometer since 2009 and really enjoy it. Your goal is to find out what your daily average steps are over the course of 3-5 days, then add 500 to 1000 steps a week (or 10-20% of your average determined from baseline) until you progress to 10,000 steps each day (this is about 5 miles). The average Fitbit user records about 6000 steps a day. Research by Tudor-Locke and Schuna recommend that adults avoid averaging less than 5,000 steps a day and strive to average greater than 7,500 steps a day, of which about 3,000 steps (about 30 minutes) should be taken at a cadence of 100 steps or more a minute. Stanford University researchers looked at 26 different studies and summarized the results in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Their synopsis showed individuals who use a pedometer take 2,000 additional steps each day compared to nonusers and had significant decreases in body mass index and blood pressure while overall physical activity level increased by 27%.

Get Strong with Stadium Stair Workouts. Whether you walk or run the stairs it doesn’t matter because in the end the stairs always win. Stair workouts are ideal for improving cardiovascular health and building hip and leg strength. It is also a great supplement with you’re weekly strength training. It engages most of the muscles in your body and the caloric expenditure is high especially if you run. Look for an area high school or college near-by and if you’re in the Boston area give Harvard Stadium a try and don’t forget to wear your pedometer, you won’t be sorry.

Understand Strength Training is for Life. Some things in your training bag will come and go but when it comes to strength training it should be done for the rest of your life! Be consistent, challenge yourself and make it progressive. According to one 1992 study women who did not strength train lost about 7 pounds of muscle every 10 years and a by-product of this was a reduction in their metabolism by about 50 calories a day.

Bring Interval Training into Play. No matter what you’re doing on the cardio side of things add interval-based cardio sessions into the mix on a weekly basis. You can find this type of exercise at a Koko FitClub near you. Here are two FREE (audio-based) cardio sessions to try. You can find interval-based workouts like Tabata and Stadium Stair intervals for all ability levels at Koko FitClub.

You Are What You Eat. All the exercise is great but if you don’t fuel up optimally it will eventually catch up with you. Try this one tip, watch your added daily sugar. If you’re a male eat no more than 150 calories a day (38 grams/day) and if you are female make it no more than 100 calories (25 grams/day). Do this for the next month and see how better you look and feel. A recent study found a correlation between high sugar consumption and type 2 diabetes rate across various countries.

Lengthen Tight Muscles. Perform a quick needs analysis on your body with a goal in mind of finding out what’s weak and what’s tight. Once this is determined, you need to strengthen what’s weak and lengthen what’s tight. I know it sounds easy but most people do not do this and invariably end up compounding any problems they may have had. In regard to the tight muscles, add some of these modalities or activities to your current routine: add a dynamic warm-up prior to exercise, try a yoga class, use a foam roller, get regular massages or relax in a hot tub. If muscles are either too tight or too weak they are basically an accident waiting to happen. Maybe this is one of the reasons why you have low back pain. If nothing else, at least try the foam roller and “roll out” to a new you for the new year!

References

Tudor-Locke C and Schuna JM (2012). Steps to Preventing Type 2 Diabetes: Exercise, Walk More, or Sit Less? Frontiers in Endocrinology 3(142):1-7.

Bravata DM, Smith-Spangler C, et al. (2007). Using Pedometers to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health. Journal American Medical Association 298(19):2296-2304.

Michael Wood, CSCS, has been Chief Fitness Officer of Koko FitClub since 2005. The Koko digital gym currently has more than 130 franchise locations in 28 states. 

Want to Stay Young? Watch These 10 Biomarkers

art-biomarkersBiomarkers are measures of various significant biological states, used to monitor our health. They are also the best way to track the effectiveness of efforts to slow down aging. As this quick review of current biomarker research shows, strength training is the key.

1. Muscle Mass. Muscle mass is the most important of the 10 biomarkers. You lose it at a rate of 0.5 lbs./year or 5 pounds per decade starting at age 40. Strength training can offset this critical loss of lean muscle tissue known as sarcopenia. One study examined the lean muscle mass of master athletes aged 40 to 81 years. The researchers found that those training 4 to 5 days per week had no significant decrease in strength with age and no loss in total lean mass4

2. Strength. As you lose muscle mass, the cross-sectional size of the muscle decreases and balance and strength are subsequently lost. A 12-year longitudinal study by Tufts University found that knee and elbow flexors and extensors lost 20 to 30% of their strength between the ages of 55 and 65 years1. Regular strength training can retard such losses.

3. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). As you age, your metabolic rate declines due to a number of factors including a loss of metabolically active lean muscle. Strength training builds muscle over time and each pound of new muscle requires an additional six calories to maintain (compared to 2 calories per pound of fat). Eating more protein with each meal and drinking more cold water will also temporarily speed up your metabolic rate.

4. Body Fat Percent. The average person adds body fat as they age. Consistent exercise and sound nutritional intake can help offset this change. Strength training is critical for maintaining the appropriate ratio of muscle and body fat. Body-fat levels should be kept below 25% in men and 32% in women. College age (non-athlete) men typically carry 15% body fat while females have 23%.

5. Aerobic Capacity. Aerobic capacity refers to how your body can process oxygen in a given amount of time. Maximum oxygen intake starts to decline at age 20 in men and age 30 in women. By the time both sexes reach age 65, aerobic capacity will be 20-30% less compared to young adults. But your aerobic capacity can improve over time with consistent, challenging aerobic and circuit-based strength exercise. For instance, research demonstrates that 12 weeks of strength training will increase treadmill walking endurance by 38% in women 65 to 79 years old3.

6. Blood-Sugar Tolerance. As we age we have a harder time managing our blood sugar (or glucose) levels because our bodies gradually lose the ability to use the sugar that is circulating in our bloodstream. By age 70, 20% of men and 30% of women have an abnormal glucose tolerance curve2 and this can lead to type 2 diabetes. Strength training helps regulate glucose metabolism, keeping the curve in the healthy zone.

7. Cholesterol/HDL Ratio. Your total cholesterol divided by your good (HDL) cholesterol will give you your ratio and this number should be 4.5 or lower. Exercise, diet and good genes all play an important role in keeping the ratio low.

8. Blood Pressure. High blood pressure can be caused by a multitude of factors including obesity, high intake of fat, alcohol, smoking, hereditary disposition, and too little exercise. One study showed that 16 weeks of strength training by 60-to 77-year-old women significantly decreased heart rate and blood pressure5.

9. Bone Density. As a person continues to age, there is a normal decline in the mineral content of bones. This process ultimately leaves an older person with a weaker, more brittle skeletal system. The average person will lose 1% of bone mass each year2. It is well understood that physical activity improves bone mineral density while building strength and muscle mass in elderly women6. Strength training helps offset this loss.

10. Internal Temperature Regulation. Older people sometimes experience unhealthy lower body temperatures. The good news is regular exercise can help repair the body’s temperature-control mechanism. The key to internal temperature regulation is fluid intake. In other words, as you age, make sure you hydrate.

Summary

All ten of these important biomarkers can be improved through strength training. Muscle mass and strength are the primary biomarkers, the lead dominos, so to speak. When they start to topple, the other biomarkers soon follow. On the other hand, when muscle mass and strength are maintained, the other biomarkers are likewise maintained. Aerobic exercise and diet are important, but if you really want to stay youthful into old age, strength training is crucial.

– Michael Wood, CSCS, Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub

This blog post was originally posted on the Koko FitClub Stronger Blog 

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– See more at: http://blog.kokofitclub.com/want-to-stay-young-watch-these-10-biomarkers/#more-3472

Benefits of Strength Training and Cardiovascular Exercise

exercise--health benefits of exercise.previewWe have a tendency to judge if exercise and diet are working by what the bathroom scale shows us each time that we step onto it. But that should not be the case. With each bout of exercise, we are improving many aspects of our health and physiology that are not visible to the naked eye. Here are just a few of the benefits that you receive as a result of consistent exercise:

Strength Training:

  • Building muscle mass can increase metabolism by 15% – so if you’re looking to rev up that slow metabolism and become more functional as you age – you need to be strength training at least two to three times each week.
  • Prevents Sarcopenia – which is the loss of muscle mass as you age – you can lose up to 10% or more of your muscle per decade after age 50.
  • Plays a role in disease prevention – like type 2 dabetes for example.
  • Improves the way your body moves resulting in better balance and less falls as you age (you can reduce your risk for falling by 40%).
  • Spares the loss of muscle during weight loss (Donnelly et al., 2003).
  • Will offset bone loss as you age – women can expect to lose 1% of their bone mass after age 35 (and this increases following menopause) – see Stong Women, Stong Bones

Cardiovascular Exercise:

  • Aerobic exercise will improve your mood by decreasing stress and anxiety levels – read Exercise for Mood and Anxiety by Michael Otto, Phd and Jasper Smits, PhD
  • Cardio exercise like jogging, hiking, jump roping etc will “load” your bones in your lower extremity and make them stronger.
  • Makes your heart stronger, lowers your resting heart rate and enables your body to deliver oxygen more efficiently to your working muscles.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine states that higher levels of cardiovascular fitness are associated with approximately a 50% reduction in disease risk.

Reference:

Donnelly, J.E., Jakicic, J.M., Pronk, N., Smith, B.K., Kirk, E.P., Jacobsen, D.J., Washburn, R. (2003). Is Resistance Training Effective for Weight Management? Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine. 1(1): 21-29.