You’ll hear from just about everyone these days (including us) that routine exercise is essential to healthy aging. Exercise is a pretty broad term that includes just about every activity except eating and pushing the remote control (I guess you may get a bit of finger exercise from the latter if you change channels a lot). At a minimum, it includes walking a half hour three times a week. At a maximum it includes long-distance running, combined with any number of other exercises like biking, swimming, resistance training, yoga, Pilates and the like. For today, let’s focus on resistance training.
So why focus on resistance (weight) training as part of an exercise routine? Lots of reasons…
- You’ll just feel better about yourself after your workout
- You’ll at least keep the muscles you have as you age
- Muscles define the shape of your body, so you’ll look better – younger (“you’ll rook mavellous, darlink”)
- Proper muscle balance protects your joints. Good core musculature protects vulnerable body areas like your back.
- Muscles burn more calories than fat, though this alone isn’t sufficient to lose weight, but it helps. The act of exercising burns calories more than muscles at rest.
- Like many cells in the body, muscles can directly burn glucose without the requirement for insulin and this is enhanced by exercise (prevents or treats type II diabetes).
- And so on…
There is a concept of the “compression of morbidity” described by Dr. Fries in 2008 (Archives of Internal Medicine) and attributed to exercise, specifically distance running. That basically means that no matter how long you live, the age at which you begin to decline or become disabled by disease gets older and occupies less time at the end of your life with consistent exercise. Not a bad thing at all! Keeping the muscles you have, protecting your joints, looking and feeling better, putting off disability, etc… Sounds like a no-brainer to me…