Miriam E. Nelson’s research created news worldwide when the results were published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. After a year of strength-training twice a week, women’s bodies were 15 to 20 years more youthful. Without the use of drugs, they regained bone density, which helps prevent osteoporosis. They became stronger — in most cases even stronger than when they were young. Their flexibility and balance improved. Without changing what they ate, they were leaner and trimmer. What’s more, the women in this study were so energized that they become 27% more active.

The anti-aging benefits are found in men also. A study revealed that persons unable to walk at a normal pace experienced physical limitation in other areas as well, such as doing heavy housework (washing the car, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, or cleaning up the garage), lifting something ten pounds, walking half mile, walking up a flight of stairs, dressing, eating, and bathing. The study concluded that in order to remain independent as you get older, it is vital to maintain good muscle strength.

The book Biomarkers: 10 Determinants of Aging You Can Control, vividly illustrates how strength-training is a fountain of youth. The ten determinants that you can control are your muscle mass, strength, basal metabolic rate, body fat percentage, aerobic capacity, blood-sugar tolerance, cholesterol/HDL ratio, blood pressure, bone density, and your body’s ability to regulate its internal temperature. Every one of these determinants is directly and significantly affected by strength training.

The most obvious determinants affected are muscle mass and strength, the immediate results of this important component of physical activity. We create good muscle mass by resistance exercise that stimulates the muscle to grow. The loss of muscle mass can create a domino effect. Imagine if you lined up ten dominos in a row and each represented one determinant of aging that you could control. The first domino would be muscle mass, and once you knocked it over (had a loss of muscle mass) each of the other dominos would be knocked over (that is, they would be affected negatively). A positive way to look at this is that by maintaining or increasing your muscle mass you help keep all of the other nine determinants of aging at good levels.

These are some of the benefits that a well-planned strength program will provide (and the great news is, you don’t have to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or work as hard as he did to get these benefits):

  • Increased muscular strength, endurance and tone
  • Increased ligament and tendon strength, which reduces arthritic pain
  • Increased bone density, the opposite of osteoporosis
  • Better posture
  • Easier acquisition of sport skills
  • Greater joint stability
  • Higher resting metabolic rate — which means one burns more calories, therefore promoting weight loss and maintenance. Each pound of muscle tissue gained increases the resting metabolism by 35 calories a day.
  • Less risk of injury and falls
  • Aid in childbearing
  • Reduced chronic lower back pain
  • Improved cholesterol levels

Looking for ideas? Check out these Workouts & Programs from Ace Health.