You're working hard at the gym every week, lifting weights
and building muscle strength and endurance. In fact, you're
absolutely thrilled with your appearance and the various health
benefits your commitment to fitness is providing. But what
will all this muscle do
for you when you get older? It may help you grow old gracefully,
according to a study in Medicine & Science in Sports &
Exercise that investigated the influence of muscle strength
and endurance on later functional limitations.
Nearly 4,000 men and women (aged 30 to 82) received a strength
evaluation between 1980 and 1989, then completed a mail-in
survey in 1990. Strength parameters included one-repetition
lifts using bench press and leg press machines, and a sit-up
test (maximum repetitions in one minute). Functional limitations
addressed in the followup survey included the ability to perform
specific physical activities and the incidence of "new health
problems" - heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer
Results: At five-year followup, seven percent of men
and 12 percent of women reported at least one functional limitation.
Subjects with greater measured strength and endurance at baseline
had a lower incidence of functional limitations compared with
subjects with lower strength/endurance at baseline.
These findings emphasize the value of strength maintenance
throughout life. The authors recommend that adults increase
aerobic physical activity and activities that increase muscular
Brill PA, Maceral CA, Davis DR, et al. Muscular strength
and physical function. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
2000: Vol. 32, No. 2, pp412-16.
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