Before discussing the benefits of strength training, the one question that you should ask yourself, especially if you are over 30 years old, is whether or not you have ever heard the term Sarcopenia?
According to the Harvard Medical School, Sarcophenia, or age-related muscle loss, is a natural part of the aging process for all humans, and the medical studies conducted reveal that after the age of 30 we begin to lose between 3% to 5% of our muscle mass each decade that we age.
Scientists and researchers continue to debate on a growing list of factors that can be causing this muscle loss, but almost all are united on 2 key findings, the first is that people with sarcopenia more than double their likelihood of serious and debilitating injury in later life (such as broken hips, broken bones etc). The second fact that most researchers agree on is that this loss of muscle mass is reversible, quite the opposite, according to Dr Thomas W Storer, the director of the exercise physiology function at a Harvard University affiliated hospital called Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “It takes work, dedication and a plan, but it is never too late to rebuild muscle and maintain it.”
Benefits of Strength Training?
All of us have a basal metabolic rate (BMR), this rate refers to the energy expenditure per unit of time that a person needs to keep the body functioning whilst at rest. Basically, the calories that your body burns each day to keep you alive by breathing, pumping your heart and ensuring all your other bodily organs are functioning healthily. Similar to sarcopenia, the average BMR tends to start declining by 1-2% each decade after the age of 20 due to the loss of ‘fat-free mass’.
It is important to note that 2 independent and comprehensive studies have shown that aerobic fitness has little or no correlation with BMR, whilst anaerobic exercise like strength training builds additional muscle mass which contributes to fat-free mass which has a positive impact on BMR.
MUSCLE AND BONE
Strength training not only helps reduce and reverse the loss of muscle mass as we age, it also has been shown to help strengthen bones and reverse the loss of bone-mass which happens as we age. In fact, one article by WebMD advises women with osteoporosis to lift weights because over a period of time it has been shown to “help prevent bone loss — and may even help build new bone.” This is reinforced by the International Osteoporosis Foundation, who recommend a series of exercises on their website that includes circuit training with strength-building exercises.