Understand the benefits of strength training for aging – 06.07.2022

Understand the benefits of strength training for aging – 06.07.2022

The natural aging process (called aging) results in the loss of heart, respiratory, muscle, bone and hormonal functions that threaten a person’s ability to perform their daily tasks and increase the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

One of the striking negative changes that occur with aging and that we need to point out is sarcopenia, a process of losing muscle mass that is also accompanied by a decrease in muscle strength.

And, contrary to popular belief, the loss of muscle mass and muscle strength brings enormous damage to the body beyond aesthetics, as studies show that sarcopenia increases the risk of hypertension, obesity, diabetes, acute myocardial infarction and stroke.

This is mainly because our muscles (muscle mass) have several important physiological functions, such as the release of myokins, which are nothing but proteins that act in various organs and tissues, such as the brain, heart, lungs, bones. , kidneys. and blood vessels.

With a decrease in muscle mass (sarcopenia) there is a decrease in the release of these myokines and, therefore, a decrease in the physiological benefits that they would promote in the important organs listed in the above paragraph.

Due to the natural aging process, there is an increase in fat in the abdomen, and high fat in this region is the main problem of obesity, because fat in this region releases bad substances, inflammatory cytokines.

But all of these physiological damage can be prevented and treated by carefully prescribing resistance training, which can be performed through weight training.

Therefore, it is important to maintain an adequate level of muscle mass and muscle strength. And don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have to be “strong” or “strong” to have these benefits, much less that you will have to train every day and for a long time in every workout.

On the contrary, know that if you do resistance training 2 to 3 times a week for about 30 minutes after training, you may already have physiological adaptations, or changes in the body that promote benefits ranging from better performance day to day. activities, such as reducing the risk of mortality.

Even the scientific study of researchers Lee and colleagues from 2018, which included 4,449 participants aged 50 and older, showed that low muscle strength is associated with an increased risk of death from all causes.

Another study was by Volaklis et al., Which analyzed the association of muscle strength with the risk of mortality in healthy and sick individuals.

The results showed that the level of muscle strength was associated with reduced mortality from all causes, regardless of age, body fat, smoking, alcohol consumption or even levels of cardiorespiratory fitness.

Furthermore, higher levels of muscle strength have been found to reduce mortality even in people with cardiovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, cancer, renal failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

It is important to point out that the benefits of having adequate levels of muscle mass and muscle strength also occur in adolescents, and this can be seen in a study by Ortega et al., Which found that people with higher levels of muscle strength have a 20% to 35% reduction in risk of death. from cardiovascular disease, regardless of BMI or blood pressure.

The researchers also found that stronger individuals had a 20% to 30% lower risk of dying from suicide and were 15% to 65% less likely to have any diagnosis of psychiatric illness, such as schizophrenia and mood disorders.

In addition, when weight training is well prescribed, it even contributes to the suppression of depression and anxiety, and that the aging process affects several physiological changes that can be a decisive factor in increasing the number of cases.

These physical and psychological changes observed in aging may be exacerbated in older women due to the biological effects of menopause, gender roles, and social factors.

Therefore, it is necessary for these people to take care of themselves, but drug treatment is often not enough.

Therefore, it is important to perform interventions that lead to functional and / or structural changes in the brain, positive changes in cerebral blood flow, neurotransmitter activity and central nervous system function, which may be a major factor in treating and controlling depressive symptoms. and anxiety .. And all this can happen through weight training.

A scientific study published by Cunha et al in 2021 showed this very well. The researchers randomly divided 41 older women into a control group (excluding weight training). The training was conducted three times a week for 12 weeks.

The results showed that weight training promoted a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety, regardless of age, muscle strength, and cognitive function, according to the Depression Scale, which included 15 aspects to be analyzed.

This reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety to which bodybuilding contributes can be derived from several factors, such as a reduction in inflammatory cytokines, increased cognition (via various markers, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), as cognitive status is associated with depressive and anxiety symptoms in the elderly.

Among these factors, among others, the increase in socialization that bodybuilding can produce is strongly associated with positive mental health.

So realize that resistance training, like weight training, should be a part of our lives, but then you can even say, “Oh, but I don’t like it!”

It’s okay, because you don’t have to love it, but understand the importance it has in your life, so don’t really love it, after all, your life will be much better.

* In collaboration with Raphael Carvalho, PhD and Master of Science with USP (University of Sao Paulo)


Cunha PM et al. Resistance training reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety in older women: a pilot study. Mental health of aging. 2021. May 18; 1-7.

Li R et al. The association of muscle mass and strength with all-cause mortality among older adults in the United States. Med Sci Sports Exercises March 2018; 50 (3): 458-467.

Ortega FB et al. Muscle strength in male adolescents and premature death: a cohort study of one million participants. BMJ 2012 Nov 20; 345: e7279.

Volaklis KA et al. Muscle strength as a strong predictor of mortality: a narrative review. Eur J Intern Med. 2015 Jun; 26 (5): 303-10.

Gylling AT et al. Effect of prolonged strength training on muscle and adipose tissue in healthy and chronically ill elderly people. Exp Gerontol. 2020 Apr 8: 110939.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.