Time; the enemy of all mortal things.
As time passes leaves fall off trees, mountains are broken by wind and rain and the human body breaks down. Unfortunately, this is break down of the human body is natural and in science it is seen around the early to late 30’s. Muscles start to break down and get weaker, bones lose their density and become brittle and reaction times start to slow down as nerves begin to age. Think about how many times (whether you’re young or old) you’ve heard someone older than you say, “Don’t get old, kid”, or “Ugh, my body hurts. I’m getting old.” Aging is a real thing along with the pain associated with it. However, what if I told you that resistance training and movement was the fountain of youth? Would you pick up a dumbbell and go on a hike after reading this? I hope so.
Before you read this next part I want you to put all preconceived notions of resistance training out of your mind. The “bro” with the protein shake in his hand and the sleeveless shirt doesn’t exist right now. For now, lets just talk science and fighting Father Time. From an evolution standpoint, your body does not want to lift weights- all it’s worried about is staying alive and the easiest caloric way to do that. When you lift weights you are expending energy and therefore fighting that internal survival mechanism. When resistance training you’re tearing muscles apart, damaging bone tissue and working your heart faster and harder than it’s used to.
Luckily for us, the body is extremely resilient and what doesn’t kill it, literally will make it stronger. Resistance exercise a.k.a. “lifting” when done long enough and safely is going to combat the effects of aging. Remember how aging over time breaks down muscle, bone and nerves? Well guess what resistance training does. It builds those vital tissues back up and makes them stronger than ever before. Everyone and their mother knows that lifting weights will get your muscles bigger and stronger, but what they don’t know is that it’ll also increase bone mineral density (great for postmenopausal women), lead to greater flexibility (due to full range of motion movements) and also will reduce your risk of falling (more type 2 muscles fibers that help with reactionary movements).
With all the science covered, I now want you to think about all those people who have told you they were in pain and told you not to get old. Do you know them to be active, strong people? Have you ever seen them do a full body weight squat? Maybe a push-up? If they are and they are still in pain, that’s a whole separate issue that goes outside the scope of this article. However, I can tell you this- I’ve been in the fitness industry for 6 years now and those who are aging, yet are in shape and lift weights, don’t have the issues their non-active counterparts do. Those active, older individuals are always stronger, have more energy, have a better body composition and are usually happier.
Now, go out there, lift a dumbbell and go on a hike!
(Written by Coach Khalil Harrison)