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Strength Training – The Fountain of Youth
In the 16th century, the famous explorer Ponce de Leone went in search of the fountain of youth. Intent on finding an elixir that could magically restore vitality and vitality, he sailed far away in search of his dream. But as we all know, his endeavor proved futile; there was no fountain of youth. Unfortunately, poor Ponce died at the age of 61.
Nearly four hundred years later, people are still searching for the magic youth potion and will pay almost anything for a product that promises to turn back the clock. Shameless hawkers capitalize on this fervent desire, promoting everything from bee pollen to rhinoceros horn as rejuvenating formulas. Unfortunately, these products are nothing more than snake oil, and those who are tricked into buying them will end up disappointed.
However, there is a tried and true remedy that can actually reverse the aging process: strength training. Yes, lifting weights is the answer to new vitality! Undoubtedly, no other activity has a greater impact on overall health and well-being. Of course, aerobic exercise is important. It takes care of the cardiovascular system and helps to speed up the consumption of calories. All in all, however, nothing compares to the myriad benefits of a dedicated strength training program.
Unfortunately, some people still believe that strength training is reserved for polished hardbodies with bulging biceps and six-pack abs. However, rest assured that pumping iron isn’t just for bodybuilders: it’s for everyone. No matter your age or current physical condition, lifting weights will help improve your quality of life. If you’re not convinced by this fact, consider what strength training can do:
More power: After the age of 35, sedentary people lose up to one percent of their muscle mass per year. As a result, their ability to perform everyday tasks such as lifting packages or moving furniture gradually decreases. When they become seniors, just getting out of bed can be a real chore. Doctors have called this condition sarcopenia – the gradual loss of muscle tissue. Weight training is the only activity that prevents sarcopenia and helps restore lost muscle and restore strength. Positive results are seen even in the elderly, regardless of previous training experience. Studies have shown that when otherwise sedentary nursing home patients (ages 80-90) are put on a structured weight lifting program, their strength levels increase by 50 percent in just a few weeks! Thus, dedicated strength training can help keep your golden years golden instead of debilitating.
Increases bone density: Healthy bones are often taken for granted. As with muscle, people lose up to 1 percent of their bone density per year after age 30. The amount doubles during menopause. Eventually, this can lead to osteoporosis – a debilitating disease that causes bone tissue to weaken from the inside out. Osteoporosis is by no means rare, affecting more than 25 million people a year. In severe cases, the bones become so fragile that they can break from a simple sneeze! Only regular gravity training can prevent bone loss. By promoting the formation of new bone minerals, bone density gradually improves. Over time, osteoporosis can be completely reversed, leading to strong, healthy bones.
Increases metabolism: Muscle is the most metabolically active body tissue. Research shows that for every pound of muscle you gain, your body burns an additional 50 calories per day at rest. To put this into perspective, adding just five pounds of muscle (an example that can be achieved with a few months of dedicated strength training) increases calorie expenditure by 250 calories a day, seven days a week! In contrast, aerobics mainly burns calories during exercise. It has only a slight displacement effect and practically does not affect the resting metabolism. In fact, when calories are restricted, aerobics can actually lead to the breakdown of muscle tissue, which actually slows down your metabolism. All things considered, the evidence is clear: strength training is even more beneficial than cardiovascular exercise for long-term weight management.
Promotes better posture: Your attitude says a lot about you. Poor posture causes you to slouch, which contributes to a tired and haggard appearance. This has a profound effect on how others perceive you and makes you look older than your years. In contrast, the upright position has a youthful exuberance that transcends your age. By standing tall, you project an air of confidence that commands respect in both your professional and social endeavors. Fortunately, targeted strength training can do wonders for your posture. By focusing on the muscles of the shoulder girdle (teres major, rhomboids, trapezius, etc.), the scapula(s) are stabilized and postural integrity is restored. With dedicated effort, other conditions can also be cured, such as lordosis (swayback) and kyphosis (helmet).
Improves self-image: As the saying goes, “When you look good, you feel good.” Undoubtedly, your appearance has a great influence on your psyche. There is no better way to transform your body than guided weight training. While cardiovascular exercise can help shed excess body fat, it really has little to no effect on muscle tone. In contrast, weight training helps shape your muscles, promoting a lean, toned physique that exudes sex appeal. Whether you are young or old, thin or overweight, pumping iron for several months will make your body more aesthetically pleasing. Invariably, your self-esteem improves, which promotes new confidence in your abilities.
Reduces Stress: Strength training can be very therapeutic. It provides an outlet for your aggressions, allowing you to channel stress and relieve anxiety. Also, when you exercise, your brain begins to release endorphins, opiate-like chemical messengers that promote “exercise.” Until recently, it was thought that endorphins were only associated with cardiovascular exercise. However, recently published studies have shown that endorphin levels increase by more than 60 percent after strength training. That’s why intense weight training makes you feel younger and even euphoric, keeping your mind clear.
Improves sports performance: More and more people are continuing an active lifestyle in their golden years. Golf, tennis, skiing and other activities are becoming popular among the older generation. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an aspiring professional, weight training is one of the best ways to increase athletic performance. Virtually every athletic endeavor requires good muscle strength, and targeted training protocols can be developed to maximize this fact. By training in a sport-specific way, significant improvements in performance can be observed.
In summary, if you are not currently on a strength training program, start one today. Do not wait! The sooner you start, the better off you will be. It’s the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth. Remember, it’s never too late to start.
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