Strong People Are Harder to Kill
“Stronger people are harder to kill than weak people, and are more useful in general” – Mark Rippetoe
I love this quote for so many reasons. It’s so simple, straight forward, and it is 100% true. If you could just snap your fingers and choose to immediately become either 10% stronger or 10% weaker than you are right now, which would you choose? I don’t think many people would voluntarily choose to be weaker than they currently are (at least I hope!), and this is for good reason. Getting stronger makes nearly everything better. If you’re an older adult, this article is especially for you. This article will discuss how being stronger will lengthen your lifespan.
It has been well documented in the scientific literature that strength training reduces your risk of all-cause mortality. This is especially important for older adults. Stronger people are less likely to die from cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, and other causes of premature death. Older adults who go to the gym and strength train are generally healthier, more self-sufficient, and have higher qualities of life than their age matched peers who don’t strength train. A 2016 study found that adults aged 65 years and older who strength trained had 41% lower risk of all cause mortality than adults who did not strength train.
Sarcopenia is the medical term for age related muscle loss. It is a huge predictor of mortality in older adults. A recent study on nursing home residents found that residents with lower strength and physical function scores (used as indicators of sarcopenia) were more likely to pass away within a year than residents with less sarcopenia symptoms. If left untreated, sarcopenia will continue on and most likely not only shorten your life, but also decrease the quality of your last decade of life. If you don’t do something about it, you may end up needing a walker, a wheelchair, or maybe even an in home caregiver to take care of you due to your frailty. Our muscles are what allow us to interact with our environment and when those waste away, so does our ability to do every day activities such as stand up from chairs without helping with our arms, carrying grocery bags, walking up steps, and lifting suitcases overhead. The good news is that sarcopenia can be stopped in its tracks through strength training.
If you’re a younger adult, you may be reading this thinking “this doesn’t apply to me” but you couldn’t be more wrong. Since it becomes harder to put on strength and muscle mass when you get into your later years, you should be spending your young adult life getting big and strong so that you’ve got an excess of muscle mass going into your later years. If you wait until your 50s or 60s to begin strength training, you’re going to wish that you started sooner.
Get in the gym and lift weights, make yourself harder to kill. 2-4 days of strength training per week for 45-60 minutes at a time consistently over the course of your life will assure that your quality of life is high and that you’re around for a long time.