Two Exercises, No Gym Required, To Boost Longevity

 

As a “guru” I consider it my job to tell you things you need to know; things that can change your life or the path you’re on.

You may not want to know what I have to share but that’s okay. I’m going to share it anyway.

So, here  we go.

Fact: The weaker you are, the greater your chances of an early death.1

As we age, we lose some muscle mass. It happens. You can influence the amount you lose but, you’re going to lose some no matter what you do.

The loss of muscle associated with aging is called “sarcopenia” – which means “poverty of flesh” from the Greek roots.

Your muscles get thinner, weaker, less flexible. And a lack of proper exercise is a significant risk factor for advanced sarcopenia.

The bottom line is that as your muscles get weaker, you get weaker and mortality rates soar.

The muscles to be most concerned about, when it comes to longevity, are your legs – the quadriceps in particular.

No Spindly Legs, Please

Muscle atrophy primarily affects one type of muscle fiber – Type II.

Type II fibers are are responsible for strength, speed, and power. Type I fibers are responsible for low intensity, longer duration activity like walking, running, cycling, swimming, or rowing.

They’re lazy though these Type II fibers.

You can go out for jog, sweat running down your face, dripping off your nose and most of your Type II fibers are napping the whole way.

And the more they nap, the thinner and weaker they get. Your legs get “skinny” or bony because the Type II fibers are hibernating.

horses-2

Spindly legs are okay for horses.

Type II fibers need certain kinds of exercise to maintain their vitality. Exercise that forces them to wake up.

You have two choices.

And they’re both hard work because you have to earn your health. Your body isn’t going to rollover and just give it to you.

You can use a heavy load and move that load as fast as you can (which won’t be very fast since the load is heavy) or you can use a lighter load and move faster.

Both methods will snap Type II fibers to attention like a bugle call at sunrise.

How To Boost Your Leg Strength Without Going To The Gym

The more muscle you use at one time, the better.

Instead of sitting on a machine and pushing against a weight stack, get on your feet like either of these (password is fusiontribe):

In either drill, you can choose lighter loads and faster speeds or heavier loads and slower speeds. Twelve to fifteen repetitions with two to three sets a couple days per week. The great thing is you’re calling all hands on deck with these drills. Lots of muscles have to go to work and that means a lot of brain power too.

Will Strengthening Your Legs Mean You Will Live Longer?

By itself, strengthening is a good addition to your longevity strategy but to boost it even more,  your lifestyle should be one that is associated with longevity: what you eat, drink, your stress levels, activity, socialization, and general happiness.

Here’s the good news. Get off your butt and start working on getting stronger and watch what happens to you. If you stick with it, things will change. They just have to. And as a result, your strength improves, your lifestyle improves and so does your longevity.

Here’s to living long and well.

  1. Metter EJ, Talbot LA, Schrager M, Conwit R. Skeletal muscle strength as a predictor of all-cause mortality in healthy men. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2000 Mar;55(3):M168-73. []
Paul says

Doug: reading your stuff for years; it was THE reason my knees work as well as they do now. Question: any ideas on how would you do this at a low load (less than my body weight), without expensive equipment? Would you find some way to hook rubber bands up to the ceiling? Or perhaps not bend as far? (I can’t get down as far as you are doing without aggravating the little cartilage I have left)

DD Kelsey says

Paul – thanks for your question. Answering it fully is beyond a comment box so I’ll put together an article with some ideas on sub-gravity training. But you have to challenge both the joint and the muscle so tools do become important at some point because of the physics involved. You can use elastic resistance attached above and looped around you to offset your body weight but you would likely need a number of different resistances and lengths to find the “sweet spot”. And, then you would want your muscles to get tired without joint pain.

Hope that helps you. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Dudes in Pilates | The Belle Method says

[…] So the moral of the story is: when it comes to training, go outside your social comfort zone. Try something new and remember to work those legs. (Running and biking doesn’t count FYI . You need sitting and standing type squats to work the right muscle fibres. Here’s why.) […]

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