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muscles help you live longer!



Andre Mcenroe – Treviso/Italy – Pixabay

“The entirety of Minimum Valuable Fitness revolves around strength training, not cardio. That means lifting (relatively) heavy weights.   I am insistent, in fact, that you do not do any form of cardio to start out.  Here’s why: while cardio may be great for heart health, general health, it has horrible return on time.”  Taken from  (Why I Recommend Strength Training and No Cardio) from Dick Talens website.
I have been a fan of STRENGTH TRAINING for quite some time.  Likewise, I have never been a big fan of running for the sake of running.  I have done a lot of hiking, or used to out and play basketball for hours on end.  But to run just because it was supposed to be good for me?  Forget about it.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the importance of the concept spoken of by Dick Talens above — Minimum Valuable Fitness.  This is essentially the same concept that Tim Ferris dealt with in 4-Hour Body.  Figure out what it takes to achieve the results you want, and don’t do any more than that because more is not better — it’s a waste of time, energy, and your body’s ability to recover / heal.  This is why exercise that is more along the lines of High Intensity / Low Duration is the best way for the average person to go.  But, is Strength Training really the best way to achieve optimum health?

A study that came out over six years ago looked at the link between muscular strength in men (ages 21 to 89) and mortality from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.  The study (Association Between Muscular Strength and Mortality in Men: Prospective Cohort Study) from the July, 2008 issue of the British Medical Journal looked at the results of examinations of men between the ages of 21 and 89 that were carried out on 10,265 men at the Cooper Clinic, in Dallas, Texas between 1980 and 1989.   Three measurements were recorded as far as fitness was concerned.

  • MAX BENCH PRESS:  How much weight could a person push for one repetition (weight was added incrementally until failure occurred)?
  • MAX LEG PRESS:  How much weight could a person push for one repetition (weight was added incrementally until failure occurred)?
  • CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS:  This test involved increasing the heart rate to 80-90% of max, as estimated from the subjects age.

After following these test subjects for an average of almost two decades, the authors noted that 503 subjects (5.7%) had died.  Almost 29% of these deaths were from CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, nearly 40% from CANCER, and the rest from other causes.  Here are the study’s conclusions…..

“Muscular strength is inversely and independently associated with death from all causes and cancer in men, even after adjusting for cardiorespiratory fitness and other potential confounders.”

In other words, the stronger you are, the less disease and death you are going to have — independently of what’s going on with your cardio fitness level.  A similar study published in April’s issue of BMC Medicine (Muscle Strength in Adolescent Men and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Events and Mortality in Middle Age: a Prospective Cohort Study) showed similar conclusions.  After examining the strength of 38,588 Swedish 18 year-olds in 1969 and 1970 via three isometric muscle strength tests (hand grip, elbow flexion and knee extension), they followed them until 2012.  Taking into account all sorts of confounders (variables that skew results), they concluded the following…..

“Men with high muscle strength in adolescence had a decreased risk of later CVD [Cardiovascular Disease] events, whereas we observed no increased risk in men with low muscle strength. However, low muscle strength was associated with increased risk of CVD mortality during middle age. Conclusions Muscle strength in adolescent men is inversely associated with later CVD events and CVD mortality in middle age, independently of cardiorespiratory fitness and other important confounders. Thus, the role of muscle fitness in the prevention and pathogenesis of CVD warrants increased attention.”

I have been saying for quite some time, that generally speaking, Strength Training is not only good for you, it’s actually better for you than Cardio — in almost every measurable category.  And when you start adding up all the studies on this topic into one large entity, you start to see that it’s not even close.  I would never tell people who love to run to stop.  I would, however, urge them to CHANGE THE WAY they approach their training, and add Strength Training to their program.  This, coupled with a PALEO-LIKE, ANTI-INFLAMMATROY diet, can not only help you if you already have health problems, but as this research shows, will help prevent developing them in the first place.  By the way, current research (not to mention common sense) reveals that this same principle is valid for women as well.


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