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You would probably like to live a longer, healthier life. The problem is, how exactly do you do that?
Should you run a marathon regularly? Maybe the answer is dancing? Past studies have shown that the key could be stronger muscles.
But, don’t run out and start lifting heavier and heavier weights just yet!
There’s another option that has now been proven to be more important than muscle strength to determining how long you live — muscle power.
Speed plus strength
Muscle power gradually decreases after 40 years of age and depends on your ability to generate force and velocity (speed plus strength).
In other words, it’s about how much you’re able to do, how fast.
More power is produced when you do the same amount of work in a shorter period of time, or when you do more work over the same period. So, for example, climbing stairs requires power — the faster you climb, the more power you need.
On the other hand, holding or pushing a heavy object (like when your car has a dead battery and you need to push it off of the road) requires strength.
And, while all of those previous studies focused on improving strength to improve longevity, researchers at Exercise Medicine Clinic – CLINIMEX, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, thought that power might be the real key.
They enrolled 3,878 non-athletes from 41-85 years old and tested their power using the upright row exercise and found that participants who had a maximal muscle power above the median for their sex had the best survival.
On the flip side, those with lower maximum muscle power had up to a 13 times higher risk of dying!
“Rising from a chair in old age and kicking a ball depends more on muscle power than muscle strength, yet most weight-bearing exercise focuses on the latter,” said study author Professor Claudio Gil Araújo, director of research and education, Exercise Medicine Clinic – CLINIMEX, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “Our study shows for the first time that people with more muscle power tend to live longer.”
And, the good news of all of that was that not only can you prolong your life by increasing your muscle power, you just need to have above-average power for your sex for the best chances at boosting your longevity!
Increasing your muscle power
So, how do you get more powerful muscles in order to live longer?
Well, according to Professor Araújo, “Power training is carried out by finding the best combination of speed and weight being lifted or moved. For strength training at the gym, most people just think about the amount of weight being lifted and the number of repetitions without paying attention to the speed of execution. But for optimal power training results, you should go beyond typical strength training and add speed to your weight lifts.”
Here’s how to rev up your power:
- Do multiple types of exercise for both your upper and lower body.
- Choose the right amount of weight to lift by using one that’s not so heavy that you can barely lift it but not too easy either.
- For each exercise, do one to three sets of six to eight repetitions.
- When you contract your muscles, move the weight as fast as possible and then slowly return to your starting position.
- Rest for approximately 20 seconds between sets.
As your current program becomes progressively easier, you can progress by adding repetitions or increasing the amount of weight you lift.
Just remember to reduce your number of reps when you increase the weight to avoid cheating by using an improper technique and to prevent injuries and to stick to your power building program for a longer life.
Editor’s note: If you’re serious about premature aging, avoiding age-related disease and living with a strong mind well into your 90s and beyond, don’t forget about your body’s master hormone. Many experts believe it’s the reason people, like Greek grandpa Stamatis Moraitis, residing in blue zones across the globe are living it up! Click to read his story…
- Ability to lift weights quickly can mean a longer life — EurekAlert!