The key to health and longevity is not some strange habit from some lost tribe in the Amazon forests, nor does it require exhausting diets and running every day!
But let's start this article a little backwards, focusing on the paradox of obesity.
So called because it has been observed that in a proportion of people, obesity is not accompanied by negative health indicators.
Worse still, research has shown that obese people have a higher chance of surviving serious illnesses and, understandably, losing weight can dramatically reduce their chances of survival.
I bet especially the last one, not many of you have heard of it. And that's because it doesn't fit in with the nice wraps that the "fitness" industry, dietitians and doctors offer you. Let me sound like a conspiracy theorist, that's the truth, isn't it?
Here is an extreme example:
Patients who are overweight have higher survival rates after sudden cardiac arrest compared to normal and lean people, and significantly so (obese people have lower rates than overweight people, but still much higher than others).
And before you think I'm advising you to eat mindlessly and get fat, I'm going to disappoint you. This does not contribute to longevity.
Well, recently a study came out which came to the following simple conclusion:
Previous research that said that people with a higher BMI had a better chance of surviving serious illnesses was correct, but this was because they had more muscle, not because they were overweight because of fat.
And an even more recent one with the same conclusions, but specific to cancer.
This latest research is an excellent introduction to something I wanted to touch on anyway in the future.
Let me explain, from a fitness point of view, what is thought to contribute to the increase in mortality probabilities:
- Poor cardiorespiratory fitness (inability to climb a few flights of stairs without heavy panting)
- Excessive exercise (more than 5 hours of intense activity per week)
While I'm sure many of you hadn't heard of the 5 hours a week, let's just say we're OK so far. Yeah? Great.
In short, the latest research only confirms what we (those of us involved in the science behind fitness) already know, which should be the primary goal in your training:
Muscle strength is the key to longevity.
- Matinrazm S, Ladejobi A, Pasupula DK, et al. Effect of body mass index on survival after sudden cardiac arrest. Clin Cardiol. 2018;41:46-50. https://doi.org/10.1002/clc.22847
- Abramowitz MK, Hall CB, Amodu A, et al. Muscle mass, BMI, and mortality among adults in the United States: a population-based cohort study. PLoS One. 2018 Apr 11;13(4):e0194697. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194697. eCollection 2018
- Caan BJ, Cespedes Feliciano EM, Kroenke CH. The Importance of Body Composition in Explaining the Overweight Paradox in Cancer-Counterpoint. cancer Res. 2018 Apr 15;78(8):1906-1912. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-3287. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-3287
Excessive exercise, mortality and recommended amount of exercise:
- O'Keefe JH, Franklin B, Lavie CJ. Exercising for Health and Longevity vs Peak Performance: Different Regimens for Different Goals; Mayo Clin Proc. 2014 Sep;89(9):1171-5. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.07.007
- Laddu DR, Rana JS, Murillo, R et al. 25-Year Physical Activity Trajectories and Development of Subclinical Coronary Artery Disease as Measured by Coronary Artery Calcium: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study;. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017 Nov;92(11):1660-1670. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.07.016
New research (01/05/2018): strength training and longevity:
- Stamatakis E, Lee IM, Bennie J, Freeston J, et al. Does Strength-Promoting Exercise Confer Unique Health Benefits? A Pooled Analysis of Data on 11 Population Cohorts With All-Cause, Cancer, and Cardiovascular Mortality Endpoints.Am J Epidemiol. 2018 May 1;187(5):1102-1112. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwx345
New research (03/05/2018): poor cardiorespiratory fitness (<4 METs), BMI, and the obesity paradox:
- McAuley PA, Keteyian SJ, Brawner CA, et al. Exercise Capacity and the Obesity Paradox in Heart Failure: the FIT (Henry Ford Exercise Testing) Project. mayo Clin Proc. 2018 May 3. pii: S0025-6196(18)30115-0. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2018.01.026
Dynapenia, sarcopenia and mortality:
- García-Hermoso A, Cavero-Redondo I, Ramírez-Vélez R, et al. Muscular Strength as a Predictor of All-Cause Mortality in an Apparently Healthy Population: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Data From Approximately 2 Million Men and Women. arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2018 Feb 7. pii: S0003-9993(18)30079-0. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2018.01.008
- Beyer SE, Sanghvi MM, Aung N, et al. Prospective association between handgrip strength and cardiac structure and function in UK adults. PLoS One. 2018 Mar 14;13(3):e0193124. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0193124. eCollection 2018.
- Tikkanen E, Gustafsson S, Amar D, et al. Biological Insights Into Muscular Strength: Genetic Findings in the UK Biobank. Sci Rep. 2018 Apr 24;8(1):6451. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-24735-y
- Zhang H, Lin S, Gao T, et al. Association between Sarcopenia and Metabolic Syndrome in Middle-Aged and Older Non-Obese Adults: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. nutrients. 2018 Mar 16;10(3). pii: E364. doi: 10.3390/nu10030364
- Yoo JI, Kim H, Ha YC, Kwon HB, Koo KH. Osteosarcopenia in Patients with Hip Fracture Is Related with High Mortality. j Korean Med Sci. 2018 Jan 22;33(4):e27. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2018.33.e27.
- Alexandre Tda S, Duarte YA, Santos JL, et al. Sarcopenia according to the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) versus dynapenia as a risk factor for mortality in the elderly. J Nutr Health Aging. 2014;18(8):751-6. doi: 10.1007/s12603-014-0450-3.
More targeted towards the male population:
- Peterson MD, Belakovskiy A, McGrath R, Yarrow JF. testosterone deficiency, frailty, and multimorbidity in men. sci rep. 2018 Apr 12;8(1):5897. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-24347-6
- Gallup AC, Fink B. Handgrip Strength as a DarwinianFitness Indicator in Men. front Psychol. 2018 Apr 6;9:439. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00439. eCollection 2018.