Weight training is a general term, with strength training being a form of weight training. Most individuals who weight train do so to look good, however there are many benefits to the general population to strength train.
A study in 1982 by Tuffs University looked at the risk factors and predictors of lifespan. The researchers expected to see blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides as the top predictors, however the findings of the study found the top two predictors of lifespan to be lean muscle mass and maximal strength.
This make sense as it is common to see hip breaks and fractures in the elderly, reducing our ability to perform common everyday tasks and activities such as going to the shop for groceries, and these breaks and fractures significantly contribute to an increase in mortality as a result. Even starting strength training at 60yrs old the risk factor of a fracture or break later in life is much lower.The main reason for the increased risk of fractures is due to a process called sarcopenia which is the death of muscle cells, as we age our muscle cells shrink.
A study conducted with a group of men aged 90, where they performed one set to muscular failure over a 12 week period found that their muscle age regressed to that of a 55yr old male, that’s a difference 35 years.
They found that this improved in both men and women, and anti-aging even occurred in patients with Parkinson’s disease. In fact, cardiovascular training causes oxidative stress which contributes to cell degradation in Parkinson’s patients.
Furthermore, studies of Type II Diabetic patients who are insulin resistant found that weight training moved insulin receptors to the muscle, with an increase in insulin receptors on the muscle significantly improving insulin sensitivity. Conversely the opposite was true with cardiovascular training, an increase in cardiovascular training reduced the number of insulin receptors on the muscle increasing insulin resistance.
The role of Grip strength in lifespan
Our hands play a vital role in all of our daily activities. Each finger and thumb is utilised enabling you to hold, grab, pinch, twist, tap, and press objects as well as perform many variations of these actions. Our hands are also instrumental in helping us perform numerous free-weight exercises by providing us with the means to grip and hold a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, or any other weight based object. Our ability to grip these objects allows us to train for various desired outcomes that help improve our health and well-being. Furthermore, the better grip we have results in our ability to lifting more weight, which is vital for increasing strength and muscle mass as well as overall health. Research has shown that grip strength has a direct correlation to our health and mortality. Weaker grip strength has a strong correlation with increased mortality rates and many adverse health conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease as well as outcomes from cancer. These associations are similar for both men and women across age groups including adolescents, middle-aged, and elderly. Not only is grip strength associated with these conditions, but it has been shown to have a stronger association than systolic blood pressure or total physical activity e.g. how much walking you do A weaker grip is also associated with a higher risk of falls for the elderly. Falls can lead to fractures of the hip and spine, which can often be fatal for the elderly. Moderate to severe fractures in the vertebrae of the spine as well other bones have also been shown to be associated with a weaker grip strength even without a major difference in muscle mass.