I had the privilege to meet an incredibly knowledgable sport scientist and osteopath Dr. Aaron Anderson during the the Inspire Wellness series of talks on aging in Hong Kong this spring. This series of wellness talks focusing on the 5 + 1 pillars of longevity called for an expert on movement and mobility who not only understood the mechanics of the body, but someone who appreciated and practiced prevention of degenerative age related issues with their clients.
Australian native Dr. Anderson was not only a perfect match with an extensive background in physiology, years of experience in practice and forward thinking, but impressed me as someone who actually talked the talk and walked the walk. We had an incredible turnout for his talk “Movements to Last a Lifetime” May 10th and now lucky to feature a guest blog from an experienced and knowledgable professional.
USING WEIGHTS TO STAY STRONG AND YOUNG
By: Dr. Aaron Anderson
Sport Scientist and Osteopath
I’m a huge advocate of lifting weights with good form. And whilst it’s never too late to start this practice, I certainly advocate committing to a routine before the age of 50.
Here are just two of many reasons two sessions of weight training a week is an iron supplement I recommend for those wanting to stay young.
Recently researchers at the University of Gothenberg published a fascinating study that indicates our bones may act as internal bathroom scales.
Animals had different weights implanted in them in the form of capsules. They found the heavier the weight was, the more the animals reduced their food intake to compensate. Over the course of the experiment, the animals lost roughly the same amount of weight as was added by the artificial load.
What is the physiology behind this? It’s thought the osteocytes – the primary cell which make up bone – detect mechanical stress and relay this information to the brain. The lower body registers what we weigh and if the body weight increases, a signal is set to the brain to decrease food intake to keep body weight constant.
When the experiment was conducted with animals with reduced osteocytes in their bones, they no longer lost weight in response to the weighted capsules.
The researchers concluded this might be a reason why excessive sitting is correlated with obesity. The internal body scales give an inaccurately low measure when you sit down for too long, the message relayed to the brain under reports your weight and as result you eat more and gain weight.
What is the take home message for us?
Using an external load – such as lifting weights – or changing your behavior from habitually sitting in a chair to spending more time squatting on the ground could be a way to stress your bones, activate the internal scales and let your brain know how much you really weigh!
As we age, we lose the nerves that innervate muscle fibres and even muscle fibres themselves. This is fact, and it accelerates after the age of 50.
By completing a strength training program, it has been found we can increase the size of the muscle fibres we have whilst making the neuromuscular connections stronger and able to fire at a higher rate. The research on this is unequivocal. You can be a trained 80 year old who is significantly stronger than an untrained 60 year old.
The benefits of toned, well functioning muscles are myriad. An improved metabolism, better balance, better blood sugar control, decreased risk of physical disability and the ability to keep doing the physical activities you love.
I recommend two sessions weight training per week of up to 45 minutes duration for the best results. And always – work with the best coach you can find for the fastest and safest results.
This photo was from a training session on the same day as my two talks at the recent Inspire Wellness seminar. The patient has had spinal surgery and we are using load to strengthen the muscles of his inner core and optimize his (remodeling) bone health.
Dr. Aaron Anderson is a Hong Kong based Sport Scientist and Osteopath. He has been working in his field for over 25 years and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Hong Kong medical, health and physical performance realm.