he analogy is striking. A lifestyle consisting of strength training, joyful movement, good sleep and healthy food is the health equivalent to an endowment life insurance plan. On the one hand, we insure ourselves against high costs that can arise from cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal diseases and diabetes and early death. On the other hand, if you don´t die or get sick, it pays out in the form of high quality of life thanks to a strong, vital and healthy body up into ripe old age.
The following is the last analogy from the world of finance, I promise: Which insurance shall I choose? In other words, which sport and lifestyle choices have the greatest effect on my health and quality of life?
For this, we must understand the root cause of the problem: the loss of muscle mass. In our article about Myokines, we learned that the function of muscle mass goes far beyond enabling movement. It is a real organ. If the liver would start to shrink or the kidneys would start to disappear, we would not be as relaxed, wouldn´t we? But when it comes to our muscle mass, we simply let it happen. This makes no sense. We gradually lose muscle mass between the age of 20 to 70 years old, 40% on average within 50 years. So, you can calculate what happens even if you maintain the same weight throughout your entire life, taking into account this massive loss of muscle mass. I say muffin tops. By the way, once we reach the age of 30, our endurance starts to decrease by 15% every 10 years.
So, what to do? The Oslo University Hospital study reveals the following: Out of 5´700 elderly Norwegians, those who intensly exercised or were active for as little as 30-60 minutes a week, had a 37% lower risk of premature death. Even more interesting is the finding that seniors who did targeted strength training achieved the performance comparable to that of untrained 20-30 year-olds! Hence, the preservation of muscle mass must be our main goal in order to protect ourselves against ageing-related diseases. Endurance comes only second. Why? Muscle mass regulates blood sugar, endocrine activity and keeps the central nervous system going while endurance "only" represents an optimisation of the interaction between muscle mass and the cardiovascular system, so it is more of an ability than a resource.
In a lecture at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Dr Doug McGuff used a simple analogy called the "area under the curve". This refers to the so-called physiological reserve:
The best way to determine the physiological reserve is to measure the maximum strength. If it is very high in specific tests, we have a large physiological reserve to cope well with the demands of everyday life and also to enjoy golf or winter sports. If this physiological reserve equals zero, we are either dead or paralyzed. Unfortunately, from the age of 24 to 26, our physiological reserve decreases with the loss of muscle mass as we age. At this point, it’s worth exploring the three different scenarios:
Please note, it doesn't have to be the high intensity strength training as we offer it at AURUM. It is simply the most time-saving and effective method to maintain the physiological reserve as long as possible and without the risk of injury.
These are the lasting effects due to more muscle mass:
Conclusion: Muscle mass gives the power to enjoy life. No matter if you are a passionate golfer, a sailor, a horseback rider or a railway modelling enthusiast - with more power, cognition and fat burning capacity, everything is so much more fun.
So don´t stress out about exercise. Get those muscles burning with a good strength training once a week. It´s the 80/20 principle of personal health when it come to sport.
Have a great week,