Strength Training Improves Cognition, Depression, Kidney Function, Good Cholesterol, Lifespan, Etc.

Posted: February 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

This morning’s *Los Angeles Times* includes an article: “Strength
training does more than bulk up muscles” by Jeannine Stein.

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

A growing body of research shows that working out with weights has
health benefits beyond simply bulking up one’s muscles and strengthening

Studies are finding that more lean muscle mass may allow kidney dialysis
patients to live longer, give older people better cognitive function,
reduce depression, boost good cholesterol, lessen the swelling and
discomfort of lymphedema after breast cancer and help lower the risk of

“Muscle is our largest metabolically active organ, and that’s the
backdrop that people usually forget,” said Kent Adams, director of the
exercise physiology lab at Cal State Monterey Bay.

Strengthening the muscles “has a ripple effect throughout the body on
things like metabolic syndrome and obesity.”

When we hit middle age, muscle mass gradually diminishes by up to about
1% a year in a process called sarcopenia.

Women also are in danger of losing bone mass as they age, especially
after the onset of menopause.

Some studies have shown that moderate to intense strength training not
only builds skeletal muscle but increases bone density as well.

Strength training often takes a back seat to cardiovascular training,
but it can benefit the heart in ways that its more popular cousin can’t.

During cardio exercise, the heart loads up with blood and pumps it out
to the rest of the body: As a result, Potteiger said, “the heart gets
better and more efficient at pumping.”

But during resistance training, muscles generate more force than they do
during endurance exercises, and the heart is no exception, Potteiger said.

During a strength workout, the heart’s muscle tissue contracts
forcefully to push the blood out.

Like all muscles, stress causes small tears in the muscle fibers.

When the body repairs those tears, muscles grow.

The result is a stronger heart, not just one that’s more efficient at pumping.

Another big advantage of working out with weights is improving glucose
metabolism, which can reduce the risk of diabetes.

Strength training boosts the number of proteins that take glucose out of
the blood and transport it into the skeletal muscle, giving the muscles
more energy and lowering overall blood-glucose levels.

The benefits don’t end there.

A 2010 study in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of
Nephrology suggested that people on dialysis can benefit from building
muscle. Researchers found that kidney dialysis patients who had the most
lean muscle mass — a measurement derived from the circumference of the
mid-arm muscle — were 37% less likely to die than the patients who had
the least.

“This is something that has an impact on survival,” said Dr. Kamyar
Kalantar-Zadeh, a principal researcher at the Los Angeles Biomedical
Research Institute and coauthor of the study.

“It’s not just about having more muscle and looking better — we’re
talking about life and death.”

Even people who already have chronic kidney disease could benefit from
strength workouts.

Germany began to incorporate modified exercise equipment into dialysis
treatment centers in 1995, and a 2004 study in the American Journal of
Kidney Diseases examining that policy found that exercise may improve
the efficiency of dialysis by increasing blood flow through the muscle
and improving phosphate removal.

The brain may get a boost from the body’s extra muscle as well.

A 2010 study in Archives of Internal Medicine found that women ages 65
to 75 who did resistance training sessions once or twice a week over the
course of a year improved their cognitive performance, while those who
focused on balance and tone training declined slightly.

One reason for the improvement, researchers believe, may be that
strength training triggers the production of a protein beneficial for
brain growth.

This study was triggered by another that looked at resistance training
as a way to reduce the risk of falls in older people, said coauthor
Teresa Liu-Ambrose, a researcher at the University of British Columbia’s
Centre for Hip Health and Mobility in Vancouver.

As the study progressed, she said she noticed that participants “were
able to take on new tasks, like taking the bus by themselves. They were
able to prepare and plan for things and execute them.”

[end excerpts]

The article is online at:


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