#9. Strength Training Helps Slow Down Aging
One recent study showed that strength training in people aged 40 and above can reverse oxidative stress and return no less than 179 genes to their youthful status, and the same cannot be said for cycling/running. Furthermore, this exercise form has been found to directly impact 10 biomarkers of aging in a positive way.
According to S. Melov and M. A. Tarnopolsky, the authors of a 2007 study named “Resistance Exercise Reverses Aging in Human Skeletal Muscle”: “Quite literally, the resistance training was not only slowing, but also reversing the aging process at the gene level. The gene expressions of the resistance trained older subjects demonstrated characteristics similar to those of the younger group. The researchers also noted that mitochondrial impairment, normally seen with inactivity, was reversing with the 6 months of resistance training.”
And what about muscle mass los and reduced bone density, which are one of the most common negative attributes of aging? Countless of studies have shown that resistance training is the best way to preserve muscle mass and bone density and prevent osteoporosis, which is why this type of training is most commonly recommended to older people.
By preserving muscle mass, they can maintain a high metabolic rate and avoid a series of health issues such as metabolic disorder, diabetes, hypertension, etc., associated with fat gain which is known side-effect of both aging-associated muscle loss and muscle loss in younger people.
#10. Strength Training Will Extend Your Lifespan
By now, it’s clear that strength training does a lot more than increasing muscle size and strength. Some researchers have actually claimed that it is the most healthful form of exercise there is, because it protects bran health, prevents sarcopenia, lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer and actually substantially lowers the death rate of cancer survivors, just to mention a few.
It can also improve hormonal balance and prevent mood disorders, depression and anxiety, as well as enhance cognitive skills in both older and younger people. And by adding up the health-boosting, disease-preventing and anti-aging benefits of strength training, it’s easy to conclude that this type of exercise can increase your longevity. But there’s more.
Some new studies have found that weightlifting can directly increase your lifespan. How? By lowering the level of myostatin in your body. Miostatin (also known as growth differentiation factor 8 or GDF-8), is a myokine produced and released by myocytes that inhibits myogenesis, i.e. growth and differentiation in muscle cells. The way in which weightlifting increases the size and strength of your muscles is lowering the level of myostatin. According to these studies, less myostatin also means about 15% longer life.
On top of that, if there’s one thing that could keep your self-confidence stable and body image positive during your golden years, it’s having a high-degree of strength and mobility, both of which can be maximized and maintained with the help of strength training and weightlifting. Among other things, this will lower your risk of bone fractures, back pain, osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis.
On the other hand, running is a pretty high-impact exercise that isn’t recommendable for most seniors, although some studies have yielded interesting contra-arguments to this. Still, besides improving cardiovascular health, strengthening segments of the lower body and eliminating stress, running can’t do all that much for anyone. Cycling could be done forever, but… for what purpose?
Just like running, it won’t do anything to develop your upper body and core muscles or improve your posture, stability or balance. It can’t even help you reverse the effects of excess sedentary activity and it’s unable to stimulate effective and dramatic fat loss as strength training can. Running and cycling simply cannot be compared with strength training in any terms, including short-term and long-term health benefits.
Do you want to be able to move with ease and vitality, keep your mind sharp and quick, and feel energized and balanced until your very last day? Then make strength training the cornerstone of your fitness program. Period.
And if you have the time and desire to do it, add some running and cycling sessions to boost your gains even further. Good luck!