Motivations to Exercise in 2014

It’s that time of year.  Time to start planning for all that we want to accomplish in the new year.
For those of you that are thinking of getting your fitness on in 2014, I’ve put together a few bullet points listing the reasons you should follow through with that (especially high intensity resistance training).  I’m leaving out the “need to fit in a size 4 for Mardi Gras” and other short-sighted reasons.  

Some of these overlap a little but the points made outweighed brevity.  

  • Exercise is a remedy for sarcopenia.   Sarcopenia (from the Greek meaning “poverty of flesh”) is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass (0.5-1% loss per year after the age of 25).  Resistance exercise training is effective in increasing muscle mass and strength.  “Regular exercise is the only strategy found to consistently prevent frailty and improve sarcopenia and physical function in older adults.”  Read more here.
  • High Intensity Resistance Training reduces abdominal visceral fat. “The present data indicate that body composition changes are affected by the intensity of exercise training with high intensity exercise training more effectively for reducing total abdominal fat, subcutaneous abdominal fat, and abdominal visceral fat in obese women with the metabolic syndrome.”  Read more here.
  • High Intensity Resistance improves cardiovascular ability.  In a first of its kind review article, James Steele, et al, find that the “research demonstrates resistance training produces significant improvement in cardiovascular fitness (VO2 max, economy of movement).”   Resistance training to failure produces a sufficient stimuli to improve cardiovascular fitness.   The article suggest that the key factor in determining the changes that promote cardiovascular fitness is intense muscular contraction.  Read more here.
  • Exercise can delay or even prevent onset of chronic diseases.  “Taken together, conclusive evidence exists that physical inactivity is one important cause of most chronic diseases. In addition, physical activity primarily prevents, or delays, chronic diseases, implying that chronic disease need not be an inevitable outcome during life.”  Read more here. 
  • Exercise has been shown to build bone mass. Osteoporosis, a condition of accelerated bone mineral loss which leads to fractures, can be a crippling disease, particularly in women (although men get it, too), and research on resistance exercise suggests that it can build bone even in the elderly.  In a study the effect of 6 months of high- or low-intensity resistance exercise on bone mineral density and biochemical markers of bone turnover in adults aged 60-83 yr., the data revealed that high intensity resistance exercise was successful for improving BMD suggested that it also increased bone turnover, which over time may lead to further changes in BMD. Read study here.  However, as the best treatment is prevention, “Exercise has the potential to be a safe and effective way to avert bone loss in postmenopausal women.”  Read more here.
  • Resistance Training has been shown to help lower moderately high blood pressure.  “The analyses indicated that diastolic BP was significantly reduced (-2.2 mm Hg; 95% confidence interval, -3.9 to -0.5) in [resistance trained individuals] compared with control participants.”  Read more here.
  • Resistance Training is an effective tool against metabolic and frailty syndromes.  “Metabolic syndrome is a set of risk factors (abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and dyslipidemia) which increases markedly the risk of arteriosclerotic vascular disease. In subjects with frailty syndrome, aging-related loss of muscle (sarcopenia) and bone (osteoporosis) might progress to the extent that an older person loses his or her ability to live independently.  Recent studies show that resistance training has remarkable beneficial effects on the musculoskeletal system including prevention and treatment of these syndromes. Resistance training has favorable effect on metabolic syndrome since it decreases fat mass including abdominal fat. It also enhances insulin sensitivity, improves glucose tolerance, and reduces blood pressure values. The combination of sarcopenia and osteoporosis is often seen in the frailty syndrome. Resistance training is probably the most effective measure to prevent and treat sarcopenia. In addition, many studies show that resistance training can maintain or even increase bone mineral density.” Read more here.
  • High Intensity Resistance Training improves glucose tolerance.  Aging is associated with a decrease in glucose tolerance. In younger subjects both high and low intensity forms of exercise have been shown to improve glucose tolerance.  Interestingly, in a study of older adults with type 2 diabetes, improvements in metabolic health “were mediated through improvements in body composition only if they were achieved through high-intensity [progressive resistance training].”  (Emphasis added.)  Read more here.
  • Musculoskelatal fitness improves quality of life.  “Many health benefits are associated with musculoskeletal fitness, such as reduced coronary risk factors, increased bone mineral density (reduced risk of osteoporosis), increased flexibility, improved glucose tolerance, and greater success in completion of activities of daily living (ADL). With aging, the performance of daily tasks can become a challenge. Additionally, falls, bone fractures and the need for institutional care indicate a musculoskeletal weakness as we age. The earlier in life an individual becomes physically active the greater the increase in positive health benefits; however, becoming physically active at any age will benefit overall health. Improved musculoskeletal fitness (for example, through resistance training combined with stretching) is associated with an enhanced health status. Thus, maintaining musculoskeletal fitness can increase overall quality of life.”  Read more here.
  • More strength can lead to fewer falls in the elderly. “Currently, multicomponent exercise programs, and especially resistance exercise, are the most relevant interventions to slow down disability and other adverse outcomes.”   Read more here.
  • It’s never too late to start!   “We conclude that high-resistance weight training leads to significant gains in muscle strength, size, and functional mobility among frail residents of nursing homes up to 96 years of age.”  Read here


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