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Only the Strong Survive

Nov 16, 2015

“Only the strong survive”, is surely an anecdote everyone is familiar with. As our world has become more modern, it has become somewhat easier for most of us to survive. Meaning we’re more worried about bills, kids, work, or a myriad of other things besides true survival. But as we age, certain things become more difficult. Certain things that when younger, seemed trivial and were mostly an afterthought. Now, as an older individual, the most menial of tasks can become daunting. Carrying groceries, getting up and down steps, in and out of chairs or couches, or even walking to the bathroom. This becomes extremely problematic for the most obvious reason; the more you are unable to do (or fear to do) the more you won’t do and the less independent you will be. This unfortunately begins a chain reaction that is hard to come back from. The truth of the matter is this, as you age, you lose one of your most precious assets, your muscle mass. Muscle mass is an overlooked and underappreciated feature of the human body, for most people. Why? Because as a young person, you typically have just enough muscle mass to interact with your environment without a worry. Got a ten pound bag of flour on the very top shelf of the pantry? No problem. Now, change that scenario to being an 80 year old adult who needs to get that same ten pound bag of flour down from the top shelf, which could be a problem. But there is, in fact, a pretty easy solution. This solution has a host of benefits including being able to do whatever you want to, do whenever you would like to do it. The solution, is lifting weights. I’m not talking about what probably pops into your brain when you envision someone lifting weights; a hulking mass of a human throwing around barbells and dumbbells in the dark corner of the gym. I’m talking about practicing every day things. Have a problem with sitting down and standing up? Practice it. Start with assistance getting out of a chair, then, as you get good with your bodyweight, you can add weight either via a dumbbell or (gasp) a barbell. Or using dumbbells or (gasp again) a barbell and pressing it overhead. Starting with an appropriate weight and increasing it as you move forward in your new found strength training routine. Now, getting around your house, pulling things off of tall shelves, getting up and down the steps, carrying groceries, getting up and down off of the floor with your grandkids and host of other things don’t seem so difficult. And you have probably increased your chances of survival as well.

The Facts

-Muscle mass is the best marker for longevity of life (ie, more muscles = live longer)

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/5/1339.long

-Strength training has positive effects on cognitive health and ability in the elderly

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872007/

-Muscle mass and strength have effects on recovery times from operation

https://oda.hio.no/jspui/bitstream/10642/1035/1/830796post.pdf

-Elderly adults with more muscle mass have less falls, and can return from falls easier.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15824844

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