Prevention of heart disease is of the utmost importance for all of us. If we are looking to live long into our elder years without complication the best opportunity we have is through aggressive reduction of the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is the essential starting point in the quest to determine how to live longer.
In the US 1 in every 4 deaths is due to heart disease. It is still the leading cause of death for both men and women.
Like most families my relatives have experienced cardiovascular events. Luckily, for both immediate family members afflicted the diagnosis has been TIA or transient ischemic attack – mini stroke.
The ultimate wake up call.
Traditionally we would track cholesterol, triglycerides, weight and blood pressure to determine risk. More advanced, accurate testing is available including apoB, LDL particle number and other tests help to show actual risk.
As of 2017 new information has us looking a different way to add another marker to this risk portfolio.
How to live longer – Muscle mass is important for more than just looking fit
Two relatively new studies are flipping the switch on cardiovascular assessment and turning our attention to muscular development.
Muscle mass is important to maintain strength, a high metabolism and bone density.
Personally, I notice energy gains with weight training.
This isn’t always the case depending on your adrenal function, nutrient absorption, diet and recovery program.
Because working to prevent heart disease is so incredibly important for longevity developing a strength training protocol that suits your schedule, equipment and fitness level is highly recommended.
Here’s the proof:
UCLA – “Higher muscle mass associated with lower mortality risk in people with heart disease”
In a recent trial of over 6000 people it was determined that the optimal body type for preventing cardiovascular disease was high muscle and low fat mass.
This means a significant amount of lean muscle and a low total fat mass is protective against the first world’s leading killer.
Motivated to pick up the dumbbells yet?
Reading these recommendations you may be thinking that BMI measurements are no longer important. You would be correct. They aren’t helpful. People with more muscle tend to have a higher BMI, even sometimes putting them into the overweight category.
If you are on a weight loss journey resistance training needs to be part of the program.
Upper arm measurements may be enough to determine risk
This week it was determined that upper arm measurements can predict risk for cardiovascular disease in the elderly.
This doesn’t mean we should only be focused on biceps. It simply highlights that in the near future we could have recommended bicep measurements similar to how we have cholesterol reduction and blood pressure level goals for our patients.
We need to be strength training. We need to be lifting things, moving our bodies and challenging our muscles.
This type of physical stress helps with bone turnover, stress hormone management and balancing moods (lifting weights may be better for mood than cardio – new studies are showing this recently).
How we lift – resistance training with DAMY
We keep dumbbells in the living room under the hutch. Pushups occur on the rug and dips are done using the couch (these examples could go on).
There are so many opportunities to move weight in our house that it can’t be missed.
We recommend the same for most. Our programs are a mix of weights and functional/body weight exercises in addition to cardiovascular training.
Humans are used to labour. Our ancestors worked for food, walked everywhere and built most of what they own.
In contrast our lives are sedentary. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The modern way to counteract this lifestyle is to choose between body weight exercises and/or weight training and get to work.
With each lift you are working to reduce your risk of heart issues later in life.
Kamiya K, Masuda T, Matsue Y, et al. Prognostic Usefulness of Arm and Calf Circumference in Patients ≥65 Years of Age With Cardiovascular Disease. The American Journal of Cardiology. 2016.