In a new study, researchers found that people could increase their lifespan by building strong muscles.
This is the study showing that people with more muscle power tend to live longer.
The finding highlights the importance of building muscle power in healthy aging.
The research was conducted by a group of scientists from Brazil.
Muscle power and muscle strength are different things. Power depends on the ability to generate force and velocity and to coordinate movement.
For example, rising from a chair in old age and kicking a ball depends more on muscle power than muscle strength.
Climbing stairs requires power, too. The faster you climb, the more power you need. But holding or pushing a heavy object needs muscle strength.
Currently, most weight training focuses on building muscle strength, not power.
Previous research has focused on muscle strength, primarily using the handgrip exercise
In the current study, the researchers examined 3,878 non-athletes aged 41-85 years to see the link between muscle power and lifespan.
The average age of participants was 59 years, 5% were over 80, and 68% were men.
These people underwent a maximal muscle power test using the upright row exercise between 2001 and 2016.
The researchers found that during 6.5 years follow-up, 247 men and 75 women died. Participants with maximal muscle power had the best survival.
Muscle power gradually decreases after 40 years of age.
The researchers suggest that power training should find the best combination of speed and weight being lifted or moved.
For optimal power training results, people should go beyond typical strength training and add speed to their weight lifts.
According to the team, here is how to increase muscle power:
Choose multiple exercises for the upper and lower body;
Choose a weight with the load to achieve maximal power. For example, the weight should be not so easy to lift and not so heavy that you can barely lift it.
Do one to three sets of six to eight repetitions moving the weight as fast as possible while you contract your muscles (slow or natural speed in returning to initial position)
Rest for 20 seconds between each set to get enough energy stored in your muscles to start the new set
Repeat the above for the other exercises.
If you want to increase the level of your muscle power training, you should start with six repetitions in each set and then try to increase to eight.
If it becomes easy, you can increase the weight and go back to six repetitions.
If you cannot complete the repetitions with the proper technique, just go back to fewer repetitions or less weight. In that way, you can avoid injuries.
The lead author of the study is Professor Claudio Gil Araújo, director of research and education, Exercise Medicine Clinic—CLINIMEX.
The study was presented at EuroPrevent 2019, a congress of the European Society of Cardiology.
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