Increased muscle power may prolong life

Published  Today By Monica Beyer Fact checked by Isabel Godfrey
Increasing muscle strength is
good, but increasing muscle power may be even better for enjoying a longer life,
according to a recent study.

Professor Claudio Gil Araújo,
who is the director of research and education at Exercise Medicine Clinic —
CLINIMEX in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, led the new study.
Muscle power differs from
muscle strength in that it relies on generating force and velocity while
coordinating movement. For example, lifting a weight one time requires
strength, but lifting it several times as quickly as possible requires power.
The study involved 3,878
nonathlete participants who were 41 to 85 years old. Each participant took a
maximal muscle power test between 2001 and 2016 using an upright row exercise.
The researchers determined
each participant’s maximal muscle power by taking the highest value that they
achieved over two or three attempts with increasing weight and then calculating
the power exertion per kilogram of body weight.
They then separated the
participants into quartiles according to their maximal muscle power, with
quartile one being low and quartile four being high. They also analyzed the
participants separately based on their sex.
The team followed the
participants for an average of 6.5 years after this initial measurement, during
which time, 247 men and 75 women died. The researchers found that those who had
maximal muscle power above the median for their sex had higher survival rates
than those in the lower quartiles.
In fact, the participants in
quartile one had a risk of dying that was 10 to 13 times higher than that of
those in quartiles three and four, while the risk for those in quartile two was
still four to five times higher.
Prof. Araújo explains that
earlier studies examined the benefits of increasing muscle strength in relation
to life expectancy, but notes that this study is the first to look specifically
at muscle power.
“Rising from a chair in
old age and kicking a ball depend more on muscle power than muscle strength,
yet most weight-bearing exercise focuses on the latter,” he says.
“Our study shows for the
first time that people with more muscle power tend to live longer.”

Prof. Claudio Gil Araújo

Prof. Araújo presented the
study findings last week at the European Society of Cardiology’s EuroPrevent
2019 meeting in Lisbon, Portugal.

Habits that can help increase

Many lifestyle changes can go
a long way toward maximizing health and increasing longevity. A factor that has
one of the most significant effects on someone’s health is their diet.
It is best to avoid foods that
are high in saturated fat, for example, and people should not forget to load up
on fiber. Foods to limit include those with added salt and many processed
foods, particularly those that have a lot of simple carbohydrates, including
Physical activity is another
important facet of good health. Experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate
activity 5 days a week to help stave off chronic health issues, including
cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes and even some types of cancer.
Reducing or eliminating
tobacco products and alcohol consumption can also help lengthen life.
Now, perhaps experts could
consider increasing muscle power as another way to better one’s health and
increase longevity.
Ways to increase muscle power

Prof. Araújo outlines a few
ways to increase muscle power. First, it is important to choose a weight that
is neither easy to lift nor so immense that the person cannot lift it at all.
Focus on doing 1 to 3 sets of
6 to 8 repetitions each while moving the weight as quickly as possible. Slowly
return the weight to its initial position each time, and rest between sets.
It is also crucial to choose
exercises for both the upper and lower body and to choose different ones each
time to avoid boredom and burnout. If a weight becomes too heavy or an exercise
becomes too difficult, reduce the repetitions or weight to prevent injury.
Of course, it is best to
consult with a doctor before embarking on any exercise routine, and it is
essential to pay attention to how it feels. Too much pain is a red flag.
“Power training is
carried out by finding the best combination of speed and weight being lifted or
moved,” explains Prof. Araújo.
“For strength training at
the gym, most people just think about the amount of weight being lifted and the
number of repetitions without paying attention to the speed of execution.”
“But, for optimal power
training results, you should go beyond typical strength training and add speed
to your weight lifts.”

Prof. Claudio Gil Araújo

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.