We all know that increasing muscle strength is good for health, but new findings presented at EuroPrevent in Lison are focusing specifically on muscle power and its connection to longevity.
Muscle power depends on the ability to generate force and velocity and to coordinate movement. For example, lifting a weight one time requires strength, but lifting it several times as quickly as possible requires power. Claudio Gil Araújo, professor at Exercise Medicine Clinic, (CINIMEX) and study author explains, “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.”
For the study relating to longevity, researchers enrolled 3,878 non-athletes, aged 41 to 85 years old. The average age of the participants was 59 years old; five percent were over 80 and 68 percent were men. All the participants took a maximum power test using the upright row exercise between 2001 and 2016.
Each participant’s maximal muscle power was determined 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.
The values were separated by sex and divided into quartiles for survival analysis. The findings of the study showed that during a median 6 to 5-year follow-up, 247 men (10 percent) and 75 (6 percent) died. These finding showed that those who had maximal muscle power above the median for their sex had higher survival rates than those in the lower quartiles.
Earlier studies had examined the benefits of increasing muscle strength in relation to life expectancy, but as Prof. Araújo explains, “this study is the first to look specifically at muscle power and how it relates to longevity.”
Increase Muscle Power
After 40 years of age, muscle power starts decreasing, so it is extremely important to implement a daily exercise routine that includes multiple exercises for the upper and lower body. Prof. Araújo suggests that to increase muscle power, it is important to choose a weight that is neither easy to lift nor so heavy that the person cannot lift it at all. Focus on 1 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions each while moving the weight as quickly as possible. Return the weight to its initial position each time and be sure to rest a few minutes between sets.”
“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 speed of execution.”
If an exercise becomes too difficult, or a weight is too heavy, reduce the repetitions or weight to avoid injury. Always consult with a doctor before starting a new exercise routine, and remember that it is always imperative to listen to your body. If there is any pain, stop the exercise immediately.