MOVEMENT IS MEDICINE: Strength Training for Life, Longevity and Lasting Holistic Health

STRENGTH TRAINING

It’s the medicine no one told you about, the cure for many modern-day diseases. It’s the prescription that provides power from within. It unites the body and brain in a dance of excitation and exhilaration. When the mind meets movement, it is set free from itself.

It is a mental, physical and emotional health outlet all wrapped up into one. Elation, elevation, and energy exchange.

It’s the therapy you never knew you needed, connecting you to parts of yourself previously unknown.

Intertwined (In)Tension.

It’s the cold iron that lights a fire inside, warms your being, and brings you that much closer to discovering the inner strength found within.

Defy gravity. Perplex physiology. Rewire psychology.

Lift weights.
Lift your psyche.

Strength train.

THE BENEFITS OF STRENGTH TRAINING AND EXERCISE

Strength training involves performing repetitions of movements that use resistance in order to train muscles to become Strong(er) and build many other physical traits. This can be achieved using bodyweight, bands, barbells and a variety of other implements.

If the benefits of strength training and exercise could be made into a pill, you’d be crazy not to take it. One study aptly titled “Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health” highlights many of these benefits.

Strength training: [i]
  • Improves Strength
  • Increases Lean Mass
  • Reduces Body Fat
  • Improves Body Composition
  • Increases Metabolism
  • Reverses Obesity
  • Strengthens Tissues
  • Increases Bone Mineral Density and Protects Against Osteoporosis
  • Corrects Muscle Imbalances
  • Enhances Mobility, Flexibility and Afference
  • Reverses Aging Factors
  • Facilitates Physical Function, Anti-Aging and Cellular Health
  • Elevates Neurogenesis
  • Strengthens Immunity
  • Boosts Cognitive Function
  • Uplifts Mental Health [ii]
  • Improves and Supports Mood and Mindset
  • Fights Depression, Anxiety and Fatigue
  • Lowers Risk of Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Combats Metabolic Syndrome
  • Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Improves HbA1c
  • Improves Cardiovascular Health
  • Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Improves Nervous System Function
  • Decreases Risk of Disease
  • Creates Better Stress Management
  • Products Better Blood Work/Internal Health
  • Reduces Mortality
  • Reverses Muscle Loss/Fights Sarcopenia (age-related muscle wasting disease)
  • And the list goes on…

Now that’s an exciting list of “possible side effects may include but are not limited to!”

In fact, the World Health Organization recently updated it’s “guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behavior” [iii] to put more of an emphasis on strength training for life which has “been largely forgotten or ignored in the past” as the authors state. Emmanuel Stamatakis, a coauthor says,

“There is a specific recommendation on strength promoting exercise because it is clear that is has benefits that are over and above those or aerobic activity.”

TRAIN THE BODY AND THE BRAIN WILL FOLLOW

Compelling research continues to mount in support the intervention of physical activity for improving mental health. [iv] In this recent study exercise OUTPERFORMED counseling for treatment of emotional well-being and distress.

Conclusion: “A 16-week concurrent exercise program improved emotional experience in middle-aged women. Specifically, women in the exercise group significantly improved their emotional well-being and emotional distress through greater changes in positive affect and negative affect compared with the counseling group.” [v]

Training not only strengthens your muscles, mind and being but it also offers many mental health benefits on top of the well-researched physical benefits. [vi]

Unfortunately, more doctors have told people “now don’t lift anything heavy” over the years than they have recommended the opposite. And with the S.A.D. state of affairs we find ourselves in the opposite ought to be true. Heavy lifting is just what the doctor needs to order!

Have you taken the medicine?
What benefits you would like to enjoy?

FORGE AND STRENGTHEN YOURSELF

“You cannot dream yourself into a character, you must hammer and forge yourself into one.” ~James Anthony Froude, English historian

Strength training is the strongest hammer you have to disrupt homeostasis.
Intelligently designed exercise provides a great stimulus to elicit adaptation. [vii]
It can change the way you look, feel and perform. It can change your life too!

Make sure whatever you are doing is enough to create a better, stronger, bolder version of yourself. This applies in the gym and in life.

Your body is always taking an inventory of what you’re asking of it.
It needs a reason to adapt, improve and overcome.

Choose consistency, patience, and progressive overload to maximize your results.

CHOOSE STRENGTH.

CHASE PEAK PHYSICALITY

There are three kinds of people in this world as it pertains to strength and physical activity:

  1. THOSE WHO ARE TRAINING
  2. THOSE WHO ARE MAINTAINING
  3. THOSE WHO ARE DETRAINING

Training gets you something you’ve never had. “I couldn’t do that before!”
Rehab gets you back something you’ve lost. “I missed this activity!”
Detraining is usually disguised as maintaining and “everything is OK…” Until it isn’t.

Don’t wait too long, before you know it a sudden health crisis can just “come out of nowhere.”

DON’T BE A STATISTIC. BE A SPECIMEN.

Chase peak physicality. Choose your adaptions wisely.

Your body awaits the inputs you choose, and it will respond accordingly.

Those inputs include nutrition, hydration, movement, strength training, stress management, sleep hygiene, strong relationships and sunlight eye exposure for setting your circadian rhythm [viii] to name a few.

Do you desire strength or weakness?
Health or sickness?
Mobility or immobility?

Make sure your movement and food choices align with the health you say you want. What do your actions say? What areas can you work on?

TAKE THE POWER BACK.

Small steps add up. They are taking you in whichever direction you are actively, or passively choosing. Make sure it’s where you want to go. With biology there is no cruise control.

Adapt and improve.
Detrain and decline.

You decide.

“TAKE YOUR LIFE BACK.” ~Hatebreed, “Hollow Ground”

IS STRENGTH TRAINING SAFE?

Sometimes strength training can get a bad rap. Often misunderstood, it can seem unnecessary, unsafe or even scary.

Resistance training being unsafe has more to do with unskilled exercise selection, poor execution and a lack of foundational knowledge to drive adaptation and get results at an appropriate pace. There are many things people can do to maximize their results while minimizing the risk, but they’d have to have the skill and knowledge necessary to program and adjust… Or a great coach to guide them.

MOVEMENT PATTERNS AND PROGRAM MODELS

A good coach creates programs using exercises, while a great coach builds upon sacred movement patterns and aims to make the individual capable and strong at them for life.

You see, there really are no good or bad exercises, only good and bad exercise selections for the individual in question.

If we were scraping the surface, I would tell you the foundational movement patterns are the SQUAT, HINGE, LUNGE, PUSH, PULL, and CARRY.

And if we were doing a deep dive, I’d tell you about movement quality: the 13 movement patterns, available in 3 stances, and 3 planes of motion. Then we have movement quantity for the chosen exercise: 3 load, 3 velocity, 3 and duration options.

With this latter model of exercise classification, we have over 3,000 trainable movement options. Surely there are many safe regressions and progressions to choose from when creating an intelligently designed exercise program!

This is the framework I use to select the appropriate exercise for the individual. Then I teach the perfect rep and adjust the training program variables (frequency, volume, intensity, etc.) to drive progress. This keeps the lifter safe and primed to achieve their goals and get Strong(er).

…Many truly are just scraping the surface when it comes to their exercise selection, execution and program design, if they are even following a program at all…

This is where are great coach can help teach and progress all these variables!

This training model also offers a quantifiable approach to ‘movement as medicine’ as the movements are precisely chosen, the dosages are exact, and the outcomes are observable.

The human body’s sacred movement patterns should be trained, strengthened and built up for a life of longevity and holistic health. Strength training holds great potential to add quantity and quality to one’s life. This is a medicine the masses desperately need.

Now, let’s consider the opposite of strength: weakness.

THE DANGERS OF WEAKNESS

Many modern pains that people suffer from are rooted in overall weakness, a lack of daily movement and a disconnect in body awareness. Following an intelligently designed exercise program and building a solid foundation can often help with many of these issues.

Here are some common phrases I’ve heard in my years of coaching that highlight several of these issues and misconceptions:

“Deadlifts are bad for your back.” ~A client with back pain telling me what they believe and what their doctor told them.

…No, deadlifts aren’t bad for your back. Choosing the wrong deadlift, being unprepared, impatient and using improper form is.

More people “throw their backs out” tying their shoes. Is shoe tying dangerous? No…

Not knowing how to move well is.
Not having ample movement options is.
Not knowing how to properly hinge is.

The HINGE is a sacred pattern that all humans would do well to master and strengthen. Here is a quote from Dr. Stuart McGill, a world-renowned spine specialist who has spent over three decades studying the biomechanics of the spine:

“It’s called hip hinging, and I’ve spent my career trying to prove it’s a better way of bending than what we do.”

As a specialist in back pain, rehabilitation, and injury resilience, this speaks volumes!

Learning to move properly and then strengthening those movements can have a tremendous effect in helping to mitigate pain and dysfunction. A recent meta-analysis study concluded:

“Clinicians should strongly consider utilizing posterior chain resistance training interventions for 12-16 weeks with patients with chronic low back pain to maximize their improvements in pain, disability and muscle strength.” [ix]

That means hip dominant exercises like the deadlift are just what the doctor needs to order!

Oh, and that client with the chronic low back pain? He’s doing an amazing job losing weight, running miles weekly, getting in quality meaningful movement and is no longer in pain.

“My hamstrings are always so tight!”

In an attempt to alleviate muscle tightness people will often think to stretch. And while the hamstrings are crying out for something that “something” isn’t stretching- it’s strengthening.

“Muscles are slaves to positions.” ~Dr. Pat Davidson

The hamstrings are being held captive as a prisoner in a lengthened position by poor posture. Many would benefit from Strong(er) hamstrings and more posterior chain work.

Let’s look at the body as a system and get all the parts working together.

This common “anterior pelvic tilt” lengthens the hamstrings causing tightness and weakness because of poor pelvis and diaphragm positioning. This can also cause back pain, core dysfunction and weak abs. Speaking of back pain…

“My lower back hurts.”

…Having the lumbar spine work on its own [x] without the help of the core (diaphragm/obliques), hamstring and glutes can do that. Let’s integrate these key muscles to help assist you in achieving better posture.

We’ll do this through breathing and core pelvis/thorax exercises that strengthen these muscles to work together synergistically. Then we’ll learn the HINGE pattern and train your posterior chain (backside muscles) to get Strong(er). The stronger you are the better you can manage gravity.

Let’s get your hamstrings and abs back online too so your lower back doesn’t have to do all the work and you can finally stop stretching those muscles that are “always so tight.” (i.e. calves, hamstrings, lower back, traps/neck.)

“I have a weak core. I need to do more ab work.”

This is likely true, but not in the way most people think of it and the solution isn’t “just do more crunches.”

Let’s learn to use the diaphragm effectively in its breathing and stabilization functions. This is the first step in true “core training.” [xi] Learning to brace with true 360-degree expansion (IAP) helps protect the spine in those deadlifts and other heavy compound movements as well as in daily activities. I recommend the Core360 belt to practice. Use code “SAVE10” for 10% off.

As you can see there are levels of detail that go into well-structured training.

Who knew the human body was so complex?
It sure is a lot easier to simply say, “X exercise is bad.”

If you want to strengthen your nervous system, muscles, bones, tendons, joints, movement options and mental health then STRENGTH TRAINING is your best option.

Getting out of pain can sometimes be as simple as getting into movement!

All the tissues in the human body can be strengthened.
Movement and force are how we communicate with these tissues.
Contraction is the only dance that muscles do.

“Force is the language on cells and movement is what we say.” ~Dr. Andreo Spina

Train or detrain.

Adaptation is always in play. Gravity is always pulling down. Choose your inputs wisely.

Choose strength. Train for life. Eat for health. Take care of yourself.

THE COST OF WEAKNESS

A recent study showed that weakness costs the UK 2.5 billion pounds a year. That’s almost 3.5 billion U.S. dollars! A year!

Conclusion: “This is the first study to show that muscle weakness in older people is associated with significant excess annual costs for health and social care in the UK of around £2.5 billion. These costs are projected to increase in the future due to the ageing population. Lifecourse interventions to reduce the prevalence of muscle weakness among older people are likely to have a substantial beneficial impact on the cost of health and social care in the UK.” [xii]

One chronicle from The United Nations further highlights this growing cost and the escalating negative impacts caused by unhealthy living (smoking, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity). It is appropriately titled, “LIFESTYLE DISEASES: An Economic Burden on the Health Services.” On a positive note it states:

“The combination of four healthy lifestyle factors – maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, following a healthy diet, and not smoking – seem to be associated with as much as an 80 per cent reduction in the risk of developing the most common and deadly chronic diseases.” [xiii]

It’s clear the older adult can benefit greatly from a healthy dose of Good Nutrition, strength training, and defying gravity. It’s the best anti-aging, fall prevention, cognitive boosting, disease fighting medicine we have!

Here is a picture of my 70+ years strong, retired physician client, who is experiencing the compounding benefits of mobility work and resistance training: strength, anti-aging, heart health and longevity.

STRENGTH TRAINING IS PREVENTATIVE CARE

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

It’s hard to sell prevention but it’s clear we desperately need a revolution of strength. [xiv]

We need movement. We need a movement. Your move.

Don’t wait until your health is compromised to realize how much your life really matters. Daily health deposits are your best investment. The alternative is ignoring your health until you’re faced with consequences you have to deal with.

Choose choices today instead of consequences tomorrow. Find the beauty of strength before the burden of weakness finds you.

If you want to improve your nutrition, health and movement habits let’s connect. Download these FREE RESOURCES to start to build a Strong(er) relationship with food, fitness and your future self.

Read more of the Movement Is Medicine article series:

Part 1: S.A.D. (+) Sedentarism is Sickness
Part 2: Breathing, Posture and Pain Relief
Part 3: True Mobility Training
Part 4: Dopamine Drives You
Part 5: Strength Training
Part 6: You Are the Doctor of Your Future- ACT NOW! (Coming Soon- Join the Newsletter for more exclusive content and updates.)

If you want to take your body back and get control of your health we are here to help!

Nutritional Mastery Coaching can help you:

  • Learn to eat better, without dieting or feeling deprived.
  • Get active and moving no matter what shape you’re in.
  • Produce lifelong change inside and out for a brighter healthier future.

You can choose strength and we can help navigate and walk with you on your health journey.

We’d love to learn more about you, your goals and your story.

Schedule your complementary consultation to learn more about Nutritional Mastery coaching.
LET’S CONNECT.

Download our FREE RESOURCES: The Limiting Factors and Lifestyle Guides today to start strong on your health and fitness journey.

Helping You Eat, Move, and Live Better Through The Power of Good Nutrition, Meaningful Movement and Healthy Habits So You Can Live A Life Of Transformation Inside and Out.

[i] Westcott, Wayne L. PhD Resistance Training is Medicine, Current Sports Medicine Reports: July/August 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 4 – p 209-216

doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8

[ii] OConnor, Patrick & Herring, Matthew & Adrian, Amanda. (2010). Mental Health Benefits of Strength Training in Adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 4. 377-396. 10.1177/1559827610368771.

[iii] Bull FC, Al-Ansari SS, Biddle S, et al

World Health Organization 2020 guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour

British Journal of Sports Medicine 2020;54:1451-1462.

[iv] Craft, Lynette L., and Frank M. Perna. “The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed.” Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry vol. 6,3 (2004): 104-111. doi:10.4088/pcc.v06n0301

[v] Aparicio, Virginia A et al. “A 16-week concurrent exercise program improves emotional well-being and emotional distress in middle-aged women: the FLAMENCO project randomized controlled trial.” Menopause (New York, N.Y.) vol. 28,7 764-771. 11 Mar. 2021, doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000001760

[vi] Klavestrand, J, and E Vingård. “The relationship between physical activity and health-related quality of life: a systematic review of current evidence.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports vol. 19,3 (2009): 300-12. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.00939.x

[vii] John A. Hawley, Mark Hargreaves, Michael J. Joyner, Juleen R. Zierath, Integrative Biology of Exercise, Cell, Volume 159, Issue 4, 2014, Pages 738-749, ISSN 0092-8674, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2014.10.029.

(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867414013178)

Abstract: Exercise represents a major challenge to whole-body homeostasis provoking widespread perturbations in numerous cells, tissues, and organs that are caused by or are a response to the increased metabolic activity of contracting skeletal muscles. To meet this challenge, multiple integrated and often redundant responses operate to blunt the homeostatic threats generated by exercise-induced increases in muscle energy and oxygen demand. The application of molecular techniques to exercise biology has provided greater understanding of the multiplicity and complexity of cellular networks involved in exercise responses, and recent discoveries offer perspectives on the mechanisms by which muscle “communicates” with other organs and mediates the beneficial effects of exercise on health and performance.

[viii] Blume, Christine et al. “Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood.” Somnologie : Schlafforschung und Schlafmedizin = Somnology : sleep research and sleep medicine vol. 23,3 (2019): 147-156. doi:10.1007/s11818-019-00215-x

[ix] Tataryn, Nicholas et al. “Posterior-Chain Resistance Training Compared to General Exercise and Walking Programmes for the Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain in the General Population: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Sports medicine – open vol. 7,1 17. 8 Mar. 2021, doi:10.1186/s40798-021-00306-w

[x] Harrison, Deed E et al. “Anterior thoracic posture increases thoracolumbar disc loading.” European spine journal : official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society vol. 14,3 (2005): 234-42. doi:10.1007/s00586-004-0734-0

[xi] Frank, Clare et al. “Dynamic neuromuscular stabilization & sports rehabilitation.” International journal of sports physical therapy vol. 8,1 (2013): 62-73.

[xii] Pinedo-Villanueva, R., Westbury, L.D., Syddall, H.E. et al. Health Care Costs Associated With Muscle Weakness: A UK Population-Based Estimate. Calcif Tissue Int 104, 137–144 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00223-018-0478-1

[xiii] Al-Maskari, Fatma. “Lifestyle diseases: An economic burden on the health services.” UN Chronicle. The Magazine of the United Nations (2010).

[xiv] Waters, H., and M. Graf. “The Costs of Chronic Disease in the US Milken Institute.” (2018).

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