We are constantly searching for the fountain of youth. How do we stop the ageing process and stay young forever?

With over $2 billion spent in the USA alone to try and stop age from catching up it can be very lucrative for someone to find the magic formula!

The question now is can resistance training reverse the ageing process?

In one word…YES!

What happens to us as we age?

– As we get older we start to move around less which leads to losing muscle mass and functional impairment associated in multiple studies to mitochondrial (our energy factories in all our cells) dysfunction.

– We loose elasticity in our skin, our nails starts growing slower, reduced bone density, our hair gradually thins out.

– For a large number of us we start losing brain density as we age and become more sedentary. Possibly leading to dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

– We loose height related to posture and joint compression.

– From 40 onwards our vision starts to deteriorate.

– Weight gain.

On a deeper level our genes starts expressing themselves differently and the new field of epigenetic is starting to show us as we start changing our lifestyle.

Put in plain language, the less we move the more we lose and possibly we age faster.


What happens when we start a well designed resistance training programme?

1. Genetic expression

In one study on the effects of resistance training exercises on skeletal muscle in which mature adults were tested, the training protocol started at 50% of their one rep max and gradually increased to 80% of their one rep max.

The researchers found after 6 months of resistance training exercises the loss of skeletal muscle was reversed. Interestingly the researchers identified 179 genes associated with ageing and exercise that changed their expression in response to the training, effectively reversing the effect of age on the specific genes.

2. Increase in strength and biomarkers

In a study published in the journal ‘Age’ the authors found, like the previous study, an increase in strength and a change in body composition of the study participants. In other words, an increase in lean muscle mass and a reduction in subcutaneous and visceral fat deposits.

The study also looked at different biomarkers that are thought to be affected by age, such as triglyceride, total cholesterol HDL and LDL levels. The results of the study showed a favourable improvement of all the biomarkers.

There was also a marked decrease of inflammatory responses in the body and more efficient glucose metabolism which could reduce oxidative stress in the body minimising cell damage.

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3. Bone density and posture

It is well documented as we age we lose bone density, doing resistance based training increases the stress in our bones, especially the long bones, and promotes the formation of new bone which increases the density possibly halting the process of osteoporosis. Regular exercise helps support your posture given you start early enough and do not have established bony deformations.

4. Brain function

Regular resistance exercise has been shown in a study published by researchers at the University of British Columbia to result in increased memory and have a protective effect against dementia as well as improving attention span.

In conclusion

Regular resistance training can have a positive effect on reversing the ageing processes and slowing down others. Unfortunately there are certain factors we cannot change, like the passing of time, but we can slow down or minimise the effects of time on our bodies!

Connect here with WatchFit expert Henry van der Walt

1. Melov S, Tarnopolsky MA, Beckman K, Felkey K, Hubbard A (2007) Resistance Exercise Reverses Aging in Human Skeletal Muscle. PLoS ONE 2(5): e465. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000465

2. Ribeiro AS1,2, Tomeleri CM3, Souza MF3, Pina FL3, Schoenfeld BJ4, Nascimento MA3,5, Venturini D6, Barbosa DS6, Cyrino ES3. Effect of resistance training on C-reactive protein, blood glucose and lipid profile in older women with differing levels of RT experience. Age (Dordr). 2015 Dec;37(6):109. doi: 10.1007/s11357-015-9849-y. Epub 2015 Oct 26.

3. Liu-Ambrose T1, Nagamatsu LS, Voss MW, Khan KM, Handy TC. Resistance training and functional plasticity of the aging brain: a 12-month randomized controlled trial. Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Aug;33(8):1690-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.05.010. Epub 2011 Jul 7.

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