It feels like the past to hit the key that the habit of exercising reduces the threat of having a lot of diseases. But between us, the usual guide to maintaining health – you know which one? —, that of doing about 150 minutes of physical activity every week, focus on aerobic training. Running, walking, cycling, swimming? You know!
Resistance training weights have always been a bit sideways. If we listen to what the WHO (World Health Organization) says, the rather discreet recommendation is to lift them twice a week to keep the muscles toned.
Let’s do him justice: not that this is little. In a world that lives longer, maintaining muscle tone is the guarantee of a future with mobility, less pain, less risk of falls and, above all, greater autonomy.
However, this 2023 opens with a breathtaking work, signed by Canadian researchers from the University McMaestro, in Ontario, and published right at the end of the year in the scientific journal Exercise, sports and movementt. Adds good reasons to reserve time for bodybuilding training in that brand new planner.
Lighter but stable
Canadian researchers did a comprehensive review of studies conducted around the world and concluded that resistance exercise is being unfairly underrated. This is because they go far beyond what the eyes see and only see strong, bouncy muscles.
For many people, some of the benefits listed by Canadians even seem unusual, at least when you think of the equipment in a weight room instead of a treadmill or gym. bike. Now, who would associate dumbbells with being able to focus on studies or work?
Speaking of them, the best thing for those who don’t like working too hard is this: according to the article, no one needs to lift heavy loads for their health to be hypertrophied. Most of the benefits seen are already achieved when training with lighter weights.
In fact, using loads that represent 70% of an individual’s maximum strength helps the muscle grow a lot: that’s when, it’s so heavy, you can even do the movement right away, but you feel like you can’t take it anymore. If this is your biggest goal?.
For those looking for health in a broader sense than measuring the biceps, it is better to use a more relaxed weight and repeat the movements so that a real chemical cascade takes place in the body, rather than frying eggs – or frying muscles after a few continuous repetitions — would have similar effects to a moderate aerobic workout of the same duration.
What really matters is consistency. In other words, you don’t need to train twice a week for a while, with that New Year’s enthusiasm, and then stay without weights for a whole month or so. There, neither muscles hold back the results of effort, nor is there any difference in the prevention and control of a number of conditions.
A force for knowledge
Both muscle mass and cognitive function tend to decline as we age, a sadder fact to face than waistline after party slugs.
In the field of cognition, in addition to aerobic exercise – already famous for this -, resistance training has been shown to increase the release of neurotrophic factors, molecules responsible for nutrition and the good condition of neurons. Also, they increase blood circulation in the brain. This combination would help protect blessed cognition.
To make this claim, the Canadians looked at meta-analyses on the relationship between resistance training and the functioning of our heads.
Parenthesis: a single meta-analysis, in itself, would already be a good comparison of research carried out. It’s the type of study where scientists select works that try to answer the same question about a given topic. Which, in this case, would it be: would training with loads have a positive impact on cognition?
Of course, some adjustments are made to not compare apples to apples: You can’t mix results in healthy young people with results in sick older adults, for example. And, through this path, science squeezes all the knowledge generated up to the moment and reaches the sum of scientific evidence. Talking about them?
There’s good evidence that doing resistance exercise improves what neurologists call executive function, like focus, attention, and even our ability to do two or more things at once.
However, scientists acknowledge: there is no very solid evidence of any action of bodybuilding on memory in the elderly, perhaps due to the intensity and duration of the workouts indicated for this age group. Aerobic training, on the other hand, can help a lot in this regard.
But look: the positive effects on these executive functions, highlighted by studies comparing healthy 60-year-olds who exercised with weights and equally healthy 60-year-olds who did not do this type of exercise, are significant from the fourth month, with a two-week routine moderate workouts twice a week. And, which surprises no one, the advantages are more evident in those who have always done this type of training since their youth.
Strengthening to defeat cancer
Faced with malignant tumors, especially of some types, such as those of the digestive system and those of the lung, the person loses a lot of muscle mass. And this isn’t just about difficulty eating, lack of energy to move, or side effects of treatment to combat them, although all of that counts.
Cancer itself triggers an inflammatory process that leads to the destruction of muscle fibers. And that’s one possible explanation for why people with more muscle mass tend to have a better prognosis if they happen to be diagnosed with cancer. It’s as if they have some sort of muscle pool to support the shock.
According to studies collected and analyzed by University staff McMaestro, those who do not have good muscle mass are more at risk of complications during surgery to remove the tumor and are more affected by the toxicity of chemotherapy drugs. Worse still, he appears to be at greater risk of the cancer returning later, although so far no one really understands the latter relationship.
The conclusion of the Canadian researchers is that a physical activity program led by the oncology team is always good for those who are faced with such an illness. However, if you want to compete, weight training or even weight training combined with walking, for example, helps much more than walking alone or another aerobic modality.
Less is more to reduce mortality
There are few studies that try to find out whether, once you’re already sick, the risk of dying from complications of type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart problems, thrombosis and stroke would be lower in those who train with weights. Everything indicates yes.
Just… curious! – the benefit of reducing all-cause mortality is only slight in those who practice resistance exercise between 60 and 120 minutes per week. The reduction seems greater in those who take it a little lighter, training for half an hour a week. Canadians themselves admit that it’s too early to give a hint on the duration, as there is still no consensus on the answer to the question: after all, is it better to have only an hour or two a week?
One thing is for sure, sorry to inform serious bodybuilders: We have not seen a decrease in mortality in those who lift iron in intense 130- and 140-minute weekly training sessions. Good point, intense. Indeed, we have seen the opposite: it would increase a little. In other words, apparently less is more.
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