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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Good For What Ails Ya!

When people find out that I weigh 150 pounds they are generally shocked. "Well, muscle weighs more than fat," is a phrase I've heard several times. I've probably even said it myself. I understand what they are saying, but the truth is, a pound is a pound.

However mass is a different story. Muscle occupies a smaller space than fat. I like to think of a marble vs. a marshmallow. The marble is dense and compact where the marshmallow is more airy and expanded. So my muscular 150 pounds translates into a size 8 pair of jeans.

(Cue my mantra, “Scales are stupid!” And while I'm at it, so is BMI)

Aesthetics aside, there are many great things about muscle and strength training in general. Let's take a look at just a few. 

What about calories? The great thing about muscle is that it burns more calories than fat. There is some debate on how much more, but the fact is, it does burn more. So the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.

Also, according to research, the more muscle mass you have, the more insulin sensitive you are. Basically that means the better you are able to regulate your glucose which translates into less chance of developing diabetes. 

For years studies have pointed to the benefit of resistance training on bone density and reduction in risk of Osteoporosis.  So listen up women who are approaching menopause. You are at a greater risk of Osteoporosis due to hormonal changes. And if you are older and already have Osteopenia or even Osteoporosis, a fall can have serious consequences. Forget about aesthetics, if you want to age well and keep active and reduce the negative impacts of falls, resistance training is the answer

Now let’s touch on mental benefits of strength training. Studies that I looked at showed significant benefits to elderly individuals with regards to depression. Over-all quality of life improved with less pain, increased mobility and vitality. I’m middle aged (wow that sounds weird) and I know that my personal strength training has greatly boosted my mental well being. I am more confident, outgoing and in general just happier. I deal with less pain due to Rheumatoid Disease and just seem to bounce back faster than I did prior to resuming strength training. 

I could go on with the benefits of strength training, but alas, my time grows short as does your patience.
Here are the takeaways:

  • ·         Muscle is compact – lean and trim physique
  • ·         Scales are stupid
  • ·         Muscle burns more calories
  • ·         More muscle fights diabetes 
  • ·         Strength Training builds bone
  • ·         Strength Training boosts mental well being

The short and sweet of it; LIFT HEAVY THINGS = LIVE WELL! 

Sources: - Insulin Sensitivity - Resistance training and bone density
Cussler, Lohman et al. 2003. Weight lifted in strength training predicts bone change in postmenopausal women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 35(1):10-7

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