Why Strength Matters–Part 1

by MEGHAN BOTHWELL,  BS, MS, CSCS


As Americans live longer, growth in the number of older adults is unprecedented – in 2014, 46.3 million (14.5%) of the US population was aged 65 or older and is projected to reach 98 million (23.5%) by 2060.1  In 2012, 60% of older adult managed 2 or more chronic conditions2 (i.e.: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, chronic bronchitis/emphysema3) – these chronic conditions will lower quality of life for older adults and contribute to the leading causes of death among this population.  Physical activity and exercise (these are two different things) help prevent disease and injury.4  However, less than 60% of older adults engage in physical activity, exercise, and strength training.4  This surge in of an aging population has prompted the Institute on Medicine to develop specific literature focused on retooling medical resources for an aging America.5   To cope with the 15.6 million who report having one or more limitations performing daily tasks such as walking 2-3 blocks, transferring from the chair, opening a jar, etc.6

This population growth and associated incidence of physical disability has led to increased scientific interest in the biology of aging. Medical and scientific communities have recognized that skeletal muscle dysfunction defined as muscle weakness, muscle atrophy, and poor muscle coordination, is a debilitating and life-threatening condition in older persons.5  For example, the age-associated loss of muscle strength is highly associated with both mortality and physical disability7-8. Maintenance of muscle strength with advancing age is critical because it serves as a metabolic reservoir that is needed to effectively withstand disease.9

Manini and Clark performed a systematic review on the association of muscle strength, poor physical disability and physical performance of daily living. They found the association of low muscle strength and physical disability were an astoundingly significant 90% of the time!

Feeling more motivated to do some strength training but don’t know where to start? Call Lifewellness to schedule a strength training session with Meghan and BE SURE TO READ PART 2 of Why Strength Training Matters here.