Move over muscle-heads! Science has once again confirmed that strength training is for everyone … regardless of age.
Earlier this month, researchers from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine published a study in the American Journal of Medicine contending that the more muscle mass you have, the longer you’ll live. The new findings add to a growing body of evidence that one’s fat-to-muscle ratio is a much better indicator of longevity than the commonly used body-mass-index (BMI).
BMI measures the ratio of body weight to height and can be quite misleading. Those who carry a significant amount of muscle have a tendency to score false-high on BMI and there are those who are underweight and over-fat that have great BMI’s.
The researchers analyzed data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III, conducted between 1988 and 1994. The control group of 3,659 subjects was comprised of men who were 55 or older and women who were 65 or older at the time of the survey. A 2004 follow-up survey tracked how many of those individuals died from natural causes.
The subjects’ body composition was measured using bioelectrical impedance, which uses a mild electrical current that is run through the body. The resulting data gave each person’s ratio of muscle-to-fat.
The researchers used that data to establish a muscle mass index measuring the amount of muscle relative to height, which the scientists say is a more accurate way to look at a person’s body composition than BMI. When they looked at the relationship between MMI and the research subjects longevity, they found that the higher the muscle mass, the lower the incidents of all-cause mortality.
“In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” says the study’s co-author Dr. Arun Karlamangia. “Our study indicates that clinicians need to be focusing on ways to improve body composition, rather than on BMI alone, when counseling older adults on preventative health behaviors.”
Need some additional reasons to get up off the couch and get to the gym? Strength training increases your metabolic rate, improves your glucose metabolism and increases your bone density.
If you know what you’re doing in the gym, now’s the time to get going. Spring is here and soon you’ll be able to take your re-discovered strength and get outside and play.
If a weight room looks like the console of the Starship Enterprise to you, join a local gym and hire a personal trainer. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make in your health and longevity.
And if you think you’re too old to start pumping iron, check out Ernestine Shepard (http://ernestineshepherd.net/), who at the age of 77 holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest living female body builder … and she looks awesome! Shepard gets up at 3 am each morning to get in her weightlifting routine before she goes to work as a personal trainer.
So, it’s never too late to start strength training. God invented death to tell you it’s too late.
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.