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The Number One Key to Longevity

If I were to ask you what are the most important factors for a long life, what would you say? Genetics? Lifestyle? Nutrition? Stress? Sure, all are important, but I bet you would be surprised if I told you that the most important factor is muscle strength. It’s the strongest predictor of how long you will live.

A study of 8,762 male participants who were followed for 19 years, published in the British Medical Journal, found that “muscular strength is inversely and independently associated with death from all causes and cancer.” When it comes to women, studies show that females with higher levels of muscular strength had a 40% reduced rate of all-cause mortality.

Doctors say that muscle mass and strength is the most important factor in longevity, because the stronger you are, the more likely you are to survive certain diseases.

Despite all this research, skeletal muscle has been widely overlooked when it comes to our metabolic health. From how well we control glucose and insulin to how well we age, skeletal muscle regulates many processes. One of the most important factors for how much muscle we create and retain is our protein intake, and even that has become a divisive topic in the nutrition world and one still hotly debated in some dietary camps.

Muscle mass is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, but it’s also a key factor in reducing the risk of chronic disease, increasing function and vitality, and overall longevity.

We really can’t afford to ignore it. Consuming adequate protein helps your body composition, your insulin control, and satiation. So how much protein should you consume in your daily diet to get all these benefits? I recommend you eat one gram of protein per pound of your body weight every single day.

Resistance training or weightlifting is the other crucial ingredient for building skeletal muscle. There’s no set weight that everyone should lift with each exercise, but working our muscles to failure, at whatever weight that might mean, has some big payoffs for creating and maintaining functional strength. 

If you aren’t already, here’s why you need to start lifting weights:

  1. Resistance training helps reduce your body’s fat stores including belly fat, it radically changes the shape of your body, and how you look and feel.

  2. Resistance training helps maintain resting metabolic rate and prevent age-associated fat gain. Muscle is metabolically active. It accounts for up to 50% of the total calories burned each day. In theory, a gain of 2.2 pounds in muscle mass should increase resting metabolic rate by around 20 calories per day. That really doesn’t seem like a lot, but that is measuring muscle at rest doing nothing. This does not include working those muscles intensely, recovering, and rebuilding. This process can boost your metabolism for days after an intense workout. The more muscle tissue you have, the greater the effect.

  3. Resistance training increases bone mineral density resulting in higher bone mass. The uptake of calcium into the bones requires an electrical charge generated via muscle contraction against the bone. Total inactivity, muscle loss, and lack of muscle use causes bone loss and fragility. This is very important because older people are at high risk for broken bones. It is super important to continue muscle building activity throughout your older years.

  4. Resistance training can correct or prevent many postural issues associated with weakness and aging. Correcting these postural deviations will often prevent chain reaction events, such as nerve damage and abnormal degeneration, that often lead to debilitating surgeries and handicaps.

  5. Resistance training helps boost your mood. And reduce depression.

  6. Resistance training can even improve cognitive function. That’s right, lifting weights promotes a healthy brain.

I hope this gets you excited about lifting weights, building muscle, and gaining strength. Let’s face it, you can’t afford not to.

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