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You know you need to lift weights to get stronger. You know you need to lift weights to build muscle. You even know that lifting weights can help you just be more healthy in general. But can lifting weights help you live longer? And if it can, how? Does it make you more resistant to disease? Or can it help you actually overcome certain health calamities?
On the most simplest of notes, lifting weights can help you live longer because it helps you build a more durable body. Firstly, you’ll have stronger tendons and ligaments, which are more resilient to injury. Your muscles will be stronger, which can help stave off any postural issues.
But perhaps most importantly, lifting weights builds bone osteoblasts, which are little cells that help a bone build back up after resorption. In other words, over time, bone tissue can decrease. When you’re younger, you tend to build up more of that same bone tissue to replace it on your own. However, this process slows radically as you age. Lifting weights can ensure that it stays on track, and your bones stay strong into your later years.
Muscle uses glucose (sugar) for energy since it’s so metabolically active. This happens not only when you’re using the muscle (say during a workout), but after your exercise session is over. As a result, lifting weights even just twice per week can help improve insulin sensitivity in Type 2 diabetics according to a study in Diabetes Care. Not only that, but anyone who can suffer any metabolic syndromes such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or unhealthy cholesterol levels can benefit. Read our write up on how a sugar detox affects your body here.
Inflammation is often thought of as just swelling, such as with a bruise or sprained ankle. Internal inflammation, on the other hand, is a major risk factor for heart disease, as well as many other long-term health issues. However, lifting weights can help you live longer by reducing inflammation.
One study published at Nutrition Research and Practice showed that lifting weights on a consistent basis kept immune system proteins called cytokines from shifting a great deal. A study done at the Mayo Clinic also showed that when overweight females lifted weights at least twice per week, that almost all significant markers of inflammation went down.
It has long been thought that in order to reap the rewards of weight training, that you had to lift heavy. However, this is proving to not be true. According to Brad Schoenfeld, assistant professor of exercise science at Lehman College and author of 30+ papers on resistance work, it’s much more about the effort you put in than how much you lift.
Schoenfeld says that lifting to the point where you nearly hit failure is what’s important. You could be lifting much lighter and using way more volume, but as long as you’re training to that same sort of exhaustive point, you can experience the same sort of health benefits as those lifting hundreds of pounds more.
Long story short, if you want to live longer, you need to be lifting weights. It can help reduce inflammation, strengthen everything from tendons to ligaments to bones, reduce the risk of posture-related ailments, and even improve your blood sugar. The good thing is that you don’t even have to be putting up crazy numbers to experience these benefits. As long as you’re working hard and exhausting yourself (to a point), you’ll get and become healthier.