Ongoing research on aging revealed at a recent European Society of Cardiology event shows having increased muscle power is related to prolonging the length of people’s lives. That doesn’t mean members of the elderly population should become weightlifters if they want to live long lives. But it does show a correlation between the ability to quickly lift weights and living longer. The heart is the body’s most important muscle. It must be powerful enough to pump blood from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. The power in the other muscles in the body is directly related to the heart’s pumping power.
Power Versus Strength
The results of the study which was presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s EuroPrevent 2019 made a clear distinction between power and strength. It was pointed out that while the focus of many forms of weight bearing exercises is to increase strength, the power the muscles can generate is a more accurate indicator of the person’s ability to live a long life. They also explained that all types of weight training does not produce the same type of benefit. If you want to prolong people’s lives, the study concluded, you should focus on helping them to increase their muscle power.
Measuring Muscle Power
Muscle power is the ability to coordinate movement and generate force and velocity. It is measured by the amount of work muscles perform in a unit of time. It takes muscle power to climb stairs. The faster the person climbs, the more power that is needed. Pushing or holding a heavy object, on the other hand, requires strength. Professor Claudio Gil Araujo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil based Exercise Medicine Clinic, CLINIMEX, research and education director and author of the study, explained that power training requires a combination weight being lifted with great speed.
Getting An Optimal Power Increase
When the average person is at the gym doing strength training, their focus is on how heavy the weight they are lifting is and the number of times they can lift it. To get optimal results from power training, Professor Araujo explains that the speed at which you are doing the repetitions is crucial. Adding speed of execution to the equation transforms the typical strength training routine to one that makes the muscles more powerful as well. So in order to get optimal power training results, older people must also pay attention to the speed at which they do their typical strength training workout.
Decreasing Muscle Power
After age 40, people’s muscle power gradually begins to decrease. This is a natural process. Even though long life is strongly related to muscle power, to outlive your peers, your muscle power only has to be slightly above the median. Even if you become more powerful it won’t bestow any further benefit. That’s good news. All the average person over age 40 needs to do to improve their odds of living longer is to do their strength training workouts a little bit faster. Most people would willingly put a little more effort and energy into their workouts if they know it would add years to their life.
The Cohort Studied
The European Society of Cardiology’s study followed 3,878 non-athletes between the ages of 41 and 85 between 2001 and 2016. About 68% of the participants were men. The average age was 59. Only 5% of the participants were over age 80. During the course of the study, 10% of the men and 6% of the women died. However, the participants with the highest level of muscle power lived longer than the other people in their age group. Muscle power had never been used to assess longevity before. Based on the results, Professor Araujo recommends doctors advise patients to consider trying power training.
Increasing Muscle Power
After identifying the important role muscle power plays in helping people live a longer life, Professor Araújo has gone on to outline a number of ways people can increase their muscle power. He points out that it’s important when working out to use a weight that’s challenging to lift, but one with which you can do several sets of between 6 and 8 repetitions in a short period of time. This is true of both upper body and lower body exercises. Professor Araujo reiterated that the key to increasing muscle power is to find a balance between the weight, the number of repetitions and the fastest speed at which the repetitions are done.
A Diverse Array Of Exercises
A person’s power enhancement fitness program should include several different types of exercises. This will ensure a wide range of muscles throughout the body will benefit from the workouts and boredom and burnout won’t become an issue. While regularly putting the same group of muscles through an intense workout can increase their power, working other muscle groups as well helps to prevent overuse injuries. It’s important older people consult their doctor before beginning an exercise routine. In their excitement to push past the pain threshold and build muscle power, older people have to be careful not to injure themselves.
Longevity And Quality Of Life
Professor Araujo’s research has revealed that being willing to put in the effort to lift weights quickly is one way to have a longer life. However, in addition to prolonging life, exercise can also improve people’s quality of life and help to prevent disease. Several studies have shown that older people who exercise regularly not only live longer and improve their brain function, but they also reduce their risk for heart disease and osteoporosis as well. Plus, improving muscle power helps alleviate the pain people suffering with osteoarthritis are forced to endure.
Resistance Training Helps
While weight lifting improves muscle power and strength, brain function and heart health in people over 55, doing progressive resistance training can also help make older people stronger and more powerful. They can make the workouts more fun and help people enjoy working towards living a longer, better life.