If you want good health, a long life and to feel your best well into old age, the number one most important thing you can do is strength-training, says Dr. Brett Osborn, author of “Get Serious, A Neurosurgeon’s Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness.”
“Our ability to fight off disease resides in our muscles. The greatest thing you can do for your body is to build muscle,” Osborn said citing a large, long-term study of nearly 9,000 men ages 20 to 80. After nearly 19 years, the men still living were those with the most muscular strength. (BMJ, formerly British Medical Journal, 2008).
Muscle is all protein – “nothing but good for you,” said Osborn.
Fat, however, is an endocrine organ, meaning it releases hormones and other chemicals. When a person has excess fat, he or she also a disrupted flow of excess biochemicals, which can increase insulin resistance and boost risk factors for stroke and high blood pressure, among other problems.
Strength-training has health benefits for everyone, he adds, no matter their size.
“There are no secrets to a strong and healthier body; hard work is required for the body that will remain vital and strong at any age,” Osborn says. “Always practice proper form and safety. Otherwise, the result will be the opposite of your goal, an injury.”
Here’s an exercise he recommends:
The squat is a full-body exercise. It’s the basic movement around which all training should be centered. Heavy squats generate a robust hormonal response as numerous muscular structures are traumatized during the movement (even your biceps). Standing erect with a heavy load on your back and then repeatedly squatting down will stress your body inordinately – in a good way -- forcing it to grow more muscle.