Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health (Part 1)
We are going to take a look at an article published by Wayne Westcott, PhD for Current Sports Medicine Reports titled “Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health“. According to the article, inactive adults experience a 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade, accompanied by resting metabolic rate reduction and fat accumulation. That’s ot great news for those of us trying to stay healthy as we age, but there is a way to counterbalance the natural loss of strength. The study shows that ten weeks of resistance training may increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase resting metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg. Effects of strength training on health include improved physical performance, movement control, walking speed, functional independence, cognitive abilities, and self-esteem.
Effects of Strength Training on Health and Common Diseases
Not only that, but Resistance training may help you avoid certain diseases including type 2 diabetes by decreasing visceral fat, reducing HbA1c, increasing the density of glucose transporter type 4, and improving insulin sensitivity. Resistance training may also enhance cardiovascular health, by reducing resting blood pressure, decreasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Resistance training may also promote bone development, with studies showing 1% to 3% increase in bone mineral density. Resistance training may be effective for reducing low back pain and easing discomfort associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia and has been shown to reverse specific aging factors in skeletal muscle.
Reversing Muscle Loss
You may not have to become a workout fiend and live at the gym to see benefits in reversing age-related muscle loss. Many studies have show that relatively brief sessions of about 12 to 20 total sets of regular resistance training for up to three days a week can increase muscle mass in adults. Many of these studies showed lean weight gains of about 1.4 kg following three months of resistance training. According to the article, “A representative large-scale study with more than 1,600 participants between the ages of 21 and 80 years revealed a mean lean weight increase of 1.4 kg after 10 wk of resistance training incorporating 12 total exercise sets per session. Training frequencies of 2 and 3 days per week produced similar lean weight gains, and there were no significant differences in muscle development among any of the age groups.”
Recharging Resting Metabolism
Your resting metabolic rate is closely tied to your weight loss and weight gain. Resistance training causes increased muscle protein turnover and can help improve your resting metabolic rate. The science is simple; your metabolic rate represents how much energy you burn simply being alive, keeping your involuntary systems running, maintaining tissue, and things like that. Resistance training makes your muscles use more energy while at rest. Resistance training also causes tissue microtrauma that requires relatively large amounts of energy for repair that may last for 72 hours after the training session ends. Research has shown that your resting metabolic rate increases by about 7% after several weeks of resistance training. Furthermore, it looks like the benefits last for a few days after your session ends.
Reducing Body Fat
Excessive body fat can increase your risk factors including elevated plasma cholesterol, plasma glucose, and resting blood pressure, which contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Several resistance training studies that showed approximately 1.4 kg of lean weight gain also reported approximately 1.8 kg of fat weight loss. The two go hand in hand; you will find much more success in each if you focus on both fat loss and muscle gain together.
Research shows us that resistance training in older women and older men cause significant reductions in intra-abdominal fat resulting. Increased resting metabolic rate would seem to be a major factor in fat loss. A 20-min circuit resistance training program may require approximately 200 cal for every performance and may use 25% as many additional calories for recovery processes during the first hour following the workout. Furthermore, over the next 72 hours, resting energy expenditure may remain elevated for muscle remodeling processes.
Facilitating Physical Function
As you age, you lose crucial physical function, but research seems to show that resistance training can reverse some of these debilitating effects, even for those quite advanced in age. A study focused on nursing home residents well into their 80’s showed that participants were able to increase overall strength by 60%, added 1.7 kg of lean weight, and improved their functional independence measure by 14% after 14 weeks of resistance exercises. Resistance training can improve movement control, functional abilities, physical performance, and walking speed as you age.