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There’s a new anti-aging medicine in town! It’s not new and it’s not medicine, it’s lifting weights. I’ll say again “LIFTING WEIGHTS”. Really, it’s resistance training but the most common method is going to the gym and picking up and putting down some iron. Aside from creating some sexy curves, resistance training does WAY more good for the body than bad.
Here are 3 reasons why YOU need to start lifting weights to preserve your youth and possibly reverse your age:
Numerous studies have shown an increase in bone density as a direct result of weight training. What does this mean? It means that when you get older climbing up stairs, lifting groceries, or any day-to-day activity that puts physical stress on the body will decrease your chances of a bone fracture due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is one of the most common age-related illnesses even if you are of an appropriate BMI or body fat percentage. It’s not so much the stress put on the body that causes the fracture but the inability to RESPOND to the stress put on the body. As bones age they become more fragile and susceptible to minor falls or even something as small as lowering your bum on the toilet seat. Like Rocky Balboa’s quote “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Your body may be able to sustain impact now, but how is it going to keep it moving forward and at the same capacity for years to come? Think of weight training as a practice your body does to promote resiliency in the things you do daily. You may not think moving around, carrying things, or bending over as “stress” or maybe you do. Either way lifting weights is the answer to promoting pain free and healthy mobility at all stages of life.
As we age our skin naturally loses tonicity. Why is this? One, as we age our collagen depletes at a rapid rate to support bone density (wink wink, number 1). Two, due to aging, the production of elastin lessens significantly. Elastin fibers are the proteins programmed to enable the skin to bounce back from stretching and making facial expressions. Now let’s dive even deeper into the actual skin cells. The formation of any protein such as collagen and elastin, require the production of ATP, which is made responsibly by each cell’s mitochondria. As we age, the mitochondria start to create less ATP unless prompted to create more. One of the most inexpensive and effective cosmetic treatments for loosening skin is weightlifting! By causing microtears to the muscle tissues, you are causing an inflammatory response to “repair”. Thus, driving blood flow and therefore nutrients to the damaged area. Another plug for you to check your diet: if your body needs repair, how can you repair the area if you don’t have the proper materials? Facts. Other factors such as sun or toxin exposure, and nutritional deficits can impact the rate at which our skin ages, but most people start to see the changes at age 35 to 40 years old. By resistance training early in life and often, you delay the onset of diminished functioning mitochondria and its direct side effects. And even if you are older, it has been shown that starting a resistance training program NOW can even REVERSE the effects of aging skin, given that you are addressing the other important areas of your health and wellness. Think about it, the mitochondria and your muscles are still there, they just need a little extra motivation 😉
If you haven’t heard yet, hormones govern EVERY bodily function. In relation to weightlifting, hormones production can be significantly affected by how often and how intense your training sessions are. Common changes in behavior we’ll see that are directly related to hormone decline or imbalance are increased fatigue, decreased appetite, decreased libido, mood fluctuations and many others, but those are the ones we notice the most as we age. Two primary hormones that are produced in relation to weightlifting are testosterone and estrogen. Even though we associate testosterone as the male hormone and estrogen as the female one, they both work in tandem within all genders. Weightlifting boosts testosterone production which improves bone density, muscle development, sex drive, and energy throughout the day. It has been shown that there is a direct relationship between weightlifting and anti-aging through increased testosterone alone. Estrogen on the other hand does not have so many benefitting factors with increased production, but nevertheless is vital to hormonal balance. In men, estrogen decline puts sperm maturation at risk and in women, it can speed up menopause and its symptoms. In short, causing GOOD physical stress to the body forces the endocrine system to regulate based on external stimuli. The body’s response can be slow acting depending on how your body has been responding to stress to its entirety and how well you’ve been taking care of it, but it can ONLY be beneficial. Like #2 and mitochondria stimulation, hormone production centers need to be stimulated to create the hormone to address the physical stress. If your blood sugar is high, insulin is released, if you exercise, endorphins are released, and you start to feel happy. Make sense? This is not to dismiss those that need to supplement with exogenous hormones to restore proper function but regardless, weight training is the start of the unequivocally positive cascading effect of anti-aging.
If you’ve gotten this far, I’m happy to say to you that when it comes to anti-aging, you are one bicep curl away from a better quality of life (laughter is another remedy to anti-aging too ☺). Obviously, the weights don’t lift themselves and but that can be the most empowering part of this article if you think about it. Even though you can’t turn the clock back to your 20’s, you can still feel and function throughout the rest of your life as if you were! It’s not rocket science but yes, there is a little bit of science but really, it’s as simple as picking something up and putting it down again and we all know you can do that!
Emily Chang B.S Biology, M.A. Performance Psychology. Athlete and coach at High Performance Lifestyle. Instagram: @fitem_wellness