Hey! – Rob here 👋🏼
Your Daily Health Fix today is about …
Lifting Heavy Things
When was the last time you picked up something really heavy? No seriously, not that shopping bag that you moved from the car to the house. I mean, really heavy?
To be more precise, when was the last time you took yourself to (or close to) the point of failure, where you literally couldn’t move ‘the thing’ one more millimeter, and would need a few hours (or a couple of days) to recover? Last month? Last year? 10 years ago??!
In a previous health fix we reminded you that moving your body and exercise doesn’t have to come in the form of a gym workout, but here’s some of the reasons you might not have considered for why lifting heavy things (and regularly) is essential if you wish to live optimally.
The benefits of having (well developed) muscles at different stages of life
It seems obvious to most that we need to leave infants to push against the floor to build strength and coordination in their legs. We let them have tummy time which engages the neck muscles so they become capable of supporting the weight of their heads. Generally we encourage them to pull, push, grab, climb, squat, toddle, walk and run. At this age it seems we understand that building muscle is imperative to healthy and ‘on track’ development.
After the earliest years, building, maintaining and challenging our muscles is unfortunately pushed into the category of ‘for the body builders and athletes’. . .
Note this –
1. Children and Teenagers who regularly participate in strenuous sporting activities including resistance training undergo muscular skeletal adaptations (development) that can stay with them for life – Especially when it comes to base level muscle mass at and post adolescence as well as superior bone density and integrity of connective tissues.
2. Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) is common, and becoming more so, in older adults (but not as old as you’d think). Not only does this effect physical strength and stability leading to more pains, breaks and falls, but it is a significant factor in the early onset of chronic (metabolic) diseases.
3. Muscle plays an active role in the processing, storage and use of energy. People with higher muscle mass tend to have a faster resting metabolic rate. This factor alone can be helpful for maintaining a healthy weight.
Additionally, as the muscles are the first place that excess blood glucose is deposited following eating, having more muscle mass also aids in efficiently lowering blood sugar levels so the body requires less insulin, and for a shorter time. Over the long run this serves to protect from Hyper-insulinemia (leading to diabetes), as well as avoiding the negative inflammatory and hormone disrupting effects of chronically high levels of insulin in the blood – significantly reducing the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, dementia and other chronic diseases.
4. Muscles are an immunogenic organ meaning that they play an active role in bolstering the immune system. Naturally, having well primed quality muscle tissue means that their ability to protect us from onslaught and illness is much stronger.
So, how heavy do you mean?
Well, ultimately as heavy as you can do safely – but that might mean starting at not very heavy at all. Of course ‘heavy’ is a subjective measurement.
As stated, you don’t necessarily need a gym to exercise effectively, but having a range of weights can help with safe and progressive loading. Here’s an example:-
Take one Dumbbell weight that feels like a heavy bag of shopping. (Heavy, but something you feel comfortable lifting). Put it on the floor next to your right heel. Pick it off the floor with your right hand, walk 3 meters and put it down. Turn around and face the other direction with the weight now next to your left heel. Pick it up and walk 3 meters back to where you started. Put the weight down. Do this 10 times in each direction.
If you feel like it was easy, choose a slightly heavier weight and repeat the task.
Once you find the weight which you can complete the 10 repetitions with, but the last few are getting challenging, choose this as your weight to work with for the next 3 or 4 weeks.
Now, using you chosen weight, lift and walk 10 times in each direction for as many rounds as you can do until you literally can’t do any more.
Using the same principle you can adopt this exercise in your own way. For example, you could find a heavy household object (that you can safely lift). Pick it up, and put it down at the other side of the room. Repeat this until you can’t do another round.
Note – this simple movement is similar to a Deadlift or Hip Hinge lift. This is just one example, but a more rounded program would choose a combination of exercises to work your whole body in a proportional manner.
For optimal health & longevity:
Aim to lift heavy things (be it weights, your own body weight or just random objects) multiple times per week. An example would be combining strength and mobility work 3 times per week, with some type of moderate level aerobic activity on the days in between.
Check out this previous Health Fix dose discussing which type of exercise is most beneficial for you.
. . . That’s it for this dose,
Until the next time – Stay Motivated!💪🏼
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References . . .
Effects of Resistance Training on Physical Fitness in Healthy Children and Adolescents: An Umbrella Review
Resistance Training for Children and Adolescents
Strength Training in Children and Adolescents
Weightlifting for Children and Adolescents: A Narrative Review
The impact of resistance training on strength and correlates of physical activity in youth
Combined association of chronic disease and low skeletal muscle mass with physical performance in older adults in the Sarcopenia and Translational Aging Research in Taiwan (START) study
Prevalence of sarcopenia as a comorbid disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Association between Sarcopenia, Sarcopenic Obesity, and Chronic Disease in Korean Elderly
A Review on Aging, Sarcopenia, Falls, and Resistance Training in Community-Dwelling Older Adults
Sarcopenia and its association with falls and fractures in older adults: A systematic review and meta‐analysis
Effects of resistance training in healthy older people with sarcopenia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
Effects and Moderators of Exercise on Sarcopenic Components in Sarcopenic Elderly: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Resistance exercise as a treatment for sarcopenia: prescription and delivery
Resistance Exercise to Prevent and Manage Sarcopenia and Dynapenia
Role of exercise in age-related sarcopenia
Skeletal muscle as an immunogenic organ
Crosstalk Between Skeletal Muscle and Immune System
The emerging role of skeletal muscle as a modulator of lipid profile the role of exercise and nutrition
The metabolic profiles of different fiber type populations under the emergence of the slow component of oxygen uptake
Metabolic Networks Influencing Skeletal Muscle Fiber Composition