Weakness is a crime

December 20, 2005

In a conversation with Skyler Madison at her wonderful clinic in Midtown Manhattan, I was explaining how important it was for anyone over 40 years of age to start a strength training program. Waiting too long to start rejuvenating lost muscle and bone tissue can be a big mistake.

Want to know why?

Both men and women will, as they age, lose hormonal tone. That is to say, men lose testosterone (so do women) and women lose estrogen (so do men) as we age. When our hormones dip too low, the ability to build muscle and bone diminishes and especially for women, sometimes to the point where very little to any muscle or bone can be rebuilt.

As an example, two 40 year old identical twins discuss the issue of keeping in shape. One twin opts for strength training, the other dance classes. Since resistance exercises are the only way to halt muscle loss and indeed, the only way to build it, the dancing twin will suffer normal age related muscle and bone loss at the same rate that sedentary people do which is about one half pound per year (more or less). This is a physiological fact sports fans, not my personal opinion. I wish it wasn't true. But the research is quite clear and we don’t get a vote.

Time passes. Now at the mature age of 60, the strength trained twin has in the past 20 years of strength training built an additional 10 pounds of lean muscle and bone tissue. The dancing twin has, unfortunately, lost 10. However, as time continues to pass, not even the strength trained twin will be able to ward off the inevitable facts of aging. But this twin has the advantage of having gained muscle and bone throughout the past 20 years and the dancing twin has not. A crucial difference. 

More time passes. They celebrate their 80th birthday. Though still strength training, the strength trained twin has lost all of the 10 pounds of muscle gained through the years of training due to the degradation in hormonal tone. The dancing twin, unfortunately, has lost 10 more. But, even though all that was gained was lost, the strength trained twin STILL has the muscle tone of a 40 year old (not the skin or hair color mind you) since 10 pounds was gained and then 10 lost.  But the dancing twin has lost a total of 20 pounds and so suffers the age related effects of such tremendous muscle loss. In fact, the dancing twin had to stop dancing years ago as the loss of muscle prevented such activity and now uses a cane to ambulate. The strength trained twin is mobile, travels, dances and in fact, helps the frail twin to get around.

This scenario is REAL and it happens every day. Don’t delay. Far beyond the vanity aspect, strength training is critical and vital to your health, longevity, independence and self reliance. So what are you waiting for? Build for the future!

Weakness is a crime.