Why Strength is Important, Especially as We Age

Posted on May 5, 2016. Filed under: Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Health | Tags: , , , , , |

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Dr. Greg & Monica Steiner

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

What is the purpose of strength, anyway? Well, at the most fundamental level it’s to enable us to move our bodies though, over, under and around any pathway we find ourselves travelling on, or to surmount any obstacle that impedes our travel. Second, strength enables us to physically manipulate and transport our tools, equipment, and all resources we need for both ourselves and our ‘important people’ to live and thrive. And if these demands of life are satisfied, we are free to develop the strength necessary for sports, athletics and recreation, all of which enhance our lives. Remember, our bodies are essentially anti-gravity machines designed for motion! The greater the strength in our body, the better we defy gravity and the less it impedes us.  Climbing the stairs or carrying bags of groceries become easier just by virtue of being stronger.

Many of us have heard that we lose muscle-tone as we age.  There may be a slight decline, but not so much because of the aging, but because we quit the movement.  Strength decline is mostly from misuse.  Lifestyle changes, stress and poor diet combined with a more sedentary lifestyle can drop testosterone levels and decrease our muscle mass.  Pain also limits us but if we can train intelligently (what is best for your body at the time) we can minimize this decline and even reverse it.

This brings up the question as to whether you actually need to lift heavy weights. Well, the answer depends on several things: your actual needs; your desire and motivation; and your actual physical ability to handle heavy loads.  If your ‘need’ is just to be fit for daily life in the city, you probably don’t need to lift heavy weights. If you have a physical job or hobby or are engaged in sports you may need a heavier program. If lifting heavy actually is a motivation and challenge to you, there is value in pursuing it because to engage in a positive challenge gives life that much more meaning. However, the final arbiter is whether your joints and muscle attachments actually thrive under the load; if you are constantly injured you would do well to rethink your goals and program, or risk accumulated injuries to point you can barely lift at all.  Consider exercises that use your bodyweight for resistance.  This is easier on the joints and tendons.  This includes exercises such as Yoga, Pilates, exercise bands or even dance.

Lastly, for the ladies, be rest assured that lifting weights is not going to give you a massive bulky she-hulk stature!  Most women don’t possess enough natural testosterone to build that much size nor do they eat the large amount of protein necessary to gain such mass.  As a matter of fact, most of the toned and lean women we see actually lift weights in order to produce their shapely curves.

 

 

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