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3 BIG benefits of strength training

November 22, 2013 12:46 IST

3 BIG benefits of strength training

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Jivesh Shetty

Incorporating regular strength training sessions is the key to delay and reduce losses of bone and muscle strength, says fitness trainer Jivesh Shetty

Aging can mean loss. Loss of three most important keys to health and fitness.

  • Loss of bone strength
  • Loss muscle mass and strength
  • Decrease in hormone production

Bone health

Osteoporosis or weak bones is a common condition associated with ageing. Osteoporosis typically begins with an unnoticed decrease in bone mass that leads to structural deterioration of bone tissue and an increased susceptibility to fractures of the hip, spine and wrist.

In fact, any bone can become susceptible to change in strength, particularly with age.

Until the age of about 30 to 35 years, our bones are in a constant state of building. Bone strength, however, can be affected by such things as heredity, diet, sex hormones, physical activity, lifestyle choices, and the use of certain medications.

Osteoporotic symptoms occur earlier and last longer in women (40-65 years) than men (from 65 years). Osteoporosis is less common in men than in women for several reasons.

Men produce more testosterone, have great strength and muscle mass and larger skeletons. Their bone loss starts later in life and progresses more slowly, and they do not experience the rapid bone loss that affects women when their estrogen production drops as a result of menopause.

Despite these differences, men are also susceptible to this condition.

The author is Strength & Conditioning Coach, Birla Wellness.


Photographs: Jeanette Goodrich/Creative Commons

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Muscle and strength

The loss of skeletal muscle mass(sarcopenia), declining strength and muscle atrophy are terms that describe a decrease in muscle size and functional strength. The changes in muscle size and ultimately strength levels are related to the loss of muscle fibers and shrinking of remaining fibers.

Normally muscle strength in women and men reaches its peak between the ages of 20-30, after which it remains virtually unchanged for another 20 years, if there is no disease or injury. After this point muscular performance deteriorates at a rate of about five per cent per decade, amounting to a 30 to 40 per cent loss of functional strength over the adult life span depending on physical activity, the muscles used, and type of muscle contractions.

The ability of elderly individuals to respond to exercise with large gains in strength, mobility and physical fitness is noteworthy. Exercise studies have repeatedly demonstrated the capacity of older muscle to adapt to specifically designed training programmes, resulting in gains in both strength and muscle size regardless of age or gender.

Because the independent performance of many daily living activities is strength-dependent, the maintenance of muscle size and functional strength should play an important role in the training regime for older adults.


Photographs: stroopsmma/Creative Commons
Tags: BIG

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Jivesh Shetty

Hormone production

Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body that function to control and coordinate many of the body's activities. Muscle development, growth and maturation, immune functions and perhaps even aging itself are among them. Unfortunately, like most chemicals, tissues, organs and organ systems in the body, our hormones also decline with age.

As the human body inevitably advances toward old age it is becoming more evident that strength training and weight-bearing activity are providing the answers to slowing age-related changes in our bones, muscles and hormones.

Strength training provides the mechanical stress or 'load' that stimulates the development of muscle and bone strength. The adaptation of muscles as a result of regular strength-training sessions and weight-bearing activity include strength changes and muscle mass improvement.

A consequence of these improvements is the fact that the muscle is now capable of providing a stronger contraction to increase training loads. In contrast, physical inactivity has been shown as a contributing factor to the loss of bone, muscle mass and other health risks.

The ideal exercise regime for maintaining or promoting bone, muscle and hormone health is strength training. Strength training can be site-specific, individualised, progressively overloaded and adjustable. Strength training also provides other benefits, such as improved balance and coordination.

Two important points to consider while devising a programme for strength training are intensity and recovery. Based on individual capacity and goals all programmes devised must take into account optimum training intensity and recovery.


Photographs: Steven List/Creative Commons
Tags: BIG

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