Weight lifting is well known as a great way to maintain bone health as well as insulin sensitivity for those who have diabetes. But, did you know that increasing the muscle power (different than strength) provides longer life expectancy?
What is the difference between power and strength – well a good comparison is running up the stairs vs pushing a large box down the driveway. Running the stairs requires power, but pushing the box or any heavy object requires strength, not speed.
As we age, most of the focus is on weight-bearing exercise which misses the importance of power according to researcher Claudio Gil Araujo (director of research and education at the Exercise Medicine Clinic – CLINIMEX, in Rio de Janeiro).
The study was done in about 3,900 adults, 41 to 85 years of age (average age of 59) where their max muscle power was assessed at the beginning of the study as well as at the end. It showed people with more muscle power appear to live longer. Study participants with max muscle power greater than the average for their gender had the best longevity when compared to participants in the lowest quarters below the average.
While the research is yet to be published, the preliminary data shows that when strength training at the gym or at home, focus should be on increasing strength, but also on the speed of lifting to improve muscle power.