We’ve all heard the advice to be physically active and recommendations to get 30 minutes of exercise daily. But what exactly are we trying to achieve by being regularly physically active?
Maintaining a healthy weight and reducing fat stores are common goals of starting and sticking with an exercise program. For some time now, we have known that maintaining a healthy weight and reducing body-fat % to appropriate levels are crucial factors towards optimal health and wellbeing.
However, the importance of building and maintaining our muscle mass for health is often under-appreciated.
- If muscle tissue metabolism is dysfunctional, it can disturb our ability to convert blood glucose into glycogen for storage.
- This leaves blood sugar levels elevated in the blood stream.
- If blood glucose levels are elevated in the long term, that can also trigger inflammatory processes.
- Consequentially, these can lead to many different negative health outcomes.
As the human body ages, a gradual decline in muscle mass and strength might be expected to creep up on us. This silent process of declining muscle size, strength and function is referred to as ‘Sarcopenia’. A recent study from Geelong estimated that 1/5 Australians are living with clinical signs of this muscle-wasting condition.
At the same time, more people are also gaining fat mass as they age, at a faster rate than ever before. Rates of obese and overweight individuals are the highest they’ve ever been in the Australian population. This process of gaining fat mass is a key contributing factor to many chronic diseases. When also combined with a steady decline in muscle mass, it can be made even more problematic.
This double-edged sword – referred to as ‘Sarcopenic Obesity’ – is increasingly prevalent in today’s population. Yet, there are many lifestyle choices and interventions that can slow down the process.
In fact, a multitude of clinical trials have shown that performing targeted exercise programs (at any ages) can elicit reductions in fat mass and improvement in muscle strength and size.
Strength Training benefits:
There is a common denominator across studies that show significant improvements in both fat loss and muscle gain. This being, the inclusion of strengthening exercises.
Strength training is the best way to increase muscle strength and muscle mass. In turn, it can also have a secondary effect on assisting fat loss and improving energy metabolism.
Along with recommendations to be active on all or most days of the week, the Australian Physical Activity guidelines also suggest including 2 days per week of strengthening exercises to stay healthy.
Strength training doesn’t always mean lifting weights. If you do choose to use resistance exercise or weight training, they don’t necessarily need to be heavy. There are multiple safe, effective ways to load your muscles. You can use bodyweight, household items or specific exercise equipment – the important thing is to find what works best for you. The Physios at Paddington Physiotherapy can help you design your home programme.
Studies have shown that the optimal exercise prescription for healthy weight loss and muscle maintenance for individuals with sarcobesity is the incorporation of both cardiovascular (Aerobic) and resistance (Strength) exercise modalities in a balanced training programme. https://www.maturitas.org/article/S0378-5122(12)00347-7/pdf
Are you or someone you know is at risk of developing “Sarcobesity”? If so, then get in touch with Paddo Physio for a plan of action.
You can get a targeted therapeutic exercise program developed for you by one of our Physios, Reggie – who is also an Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Sport Scientist.