Posted June 27, 2014
If you want good health, a long life, and to feel your best well into old age, the number one most important thing you can do is strength training, says Brett Osborn, MD, a neurological surgeon and the author of Get Serious, A Neurosurgeon’s Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness.
“Our ability to fight off disease resides in our muscles,” says Osborn, who has a secondary certification in anti-aging and regenerative medicine. “The greatest thing you can do for your body is to build muscle.”
Unfortunately, many amputees don’t do the type and amount of exercises they need to keep their muscles strong, and Osborn’s message should be a wakeup call to them.
He cites a large, long-term study of nearly 9,000 men ages 20 to 80. After nearly 19 years, the men who were still living were those with the most muscular strength (BMJ, formerly British Medical Journal, 2008).
Muscle is all protein,-“nothing but good for you,” Osborn says.
Fat, however, is an endocrine organ, meaning it releases hormones and other chemicals. When a person has excess fat, he or she also has a disrupted flow of excess biochemicals, which can increase insulin resistance and boost risk factors for stroke and high blood pressure, among other problems.
“Increased cytokines, an immune system chemical, for example, are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease,” Osborn says.
Strength training has health benefits for everyone, he adds, regardless of the person’s size.
“Some fat is visceral fat-it’s stored around the organs, and it’s even more dangerous than the fat you can see,” he says. “People who look thin may actually be carrying around a lot of visceral fat.”
So, what’s the workout Dr. Osborn recommends?
“Back to basics,” he says, citing the following five exercises as “the pillars of a solid training regime.”
The squat is a full-body exercise. Heavy squats generate a robust hormonal response as numerous muscular structures are traumatized during the movement (even your biceps). Standing erect with a heavy load on your back and then repeatedly squatting down will stress your body inordinately-in a good way-forcing it to grow more muscle.
The overhead press primarily activates the shoulders, arm extenders, and chest. Lower-body musculature is also activated as it counters the downward force of the dumbbell supported by the trainee.
The deadlift centers on the hamstrings, buttocks, lumbar extensors, and quadriceps, essentially the large muscles of your backside and the front of your thighs. As power is transferred from the lower body into the bar through the upper-body conduit, upper-back muscles are also stressed.
The bench press mostly targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps; it’s the most popular among weightlifters, and it’s very simple. Trainees push the barbell off the lower chest until the arms are straight. This motion stresses not only the entire upper body, but also the lower body.
The pull-up/chin-up stresses upper-body musculature. A pull-up is done when the hands are gripping over the bar; a chin-up is done when the hands are gripping under the bar.
Of course, amputees who want to do these exercises need to be sure they are doing them safely and with proper form to avoid injury.
“There are no secrets to a strong and healthier body,” Osborn says. “Hard work is required for the body that will remain vital and strong at any age.”
For more information, visit http://www.drbrettosborn.com.