Get Strong, Live Long and Beat Cancer, Says New Research
Get strong, live long and have a pretty good chance of surviving cancer. It’s all within your grasp. All you have to do is some resistance training at least twice a week. Do it at home. Grab a friend. Have fun getting strong.
Some people actually have an exact number in mind.
A common reaction to a question like, “Would you like to live to 100” is:
No way… I don’t want to be in some nursing home pissing myself!
Two friends come to mind who fear the physical degradation that typically accompanies aging. One says he doesn’t want to live past 80; the other’s mark is 85. For both of them, the reason is the same – they associate these ages with a substantial deterioration of the quality of life.
I get it.
Why would you want to tease out an extra decade of life if it was very compromised?
This perception that the golden years are going to have a lot of lead in them is the reason people often express disinterest in living much past the average lifespan, which in the U.S. is just below 79 years, according to the CDC.
But what if you could make that gold glisten? What if you could live a long and strong life?
I use the word “strong” purposely, for it turns out one the most important things you can do to improve your healthspan – those years you’re healthy – and perhaps your lifespan as well, is to get into the habit of doing strength-based exercise.
Getting strong will help you survive cancer as well, should that misfortune ever befall you.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What new research says about strength, longevity and cancer;
- WHO’s exercise recommendations;
- How to get stronger; and
- A wide selection of “get strong” workouts.
Let’s dig in…
The Research Says: Get Strong, Live Long!
Congratulations if you’re already regularly doing aerobic and anaerobic exercise, such as running, cycling, and walking. This type of exercise reduces your risk of disease and increases your healthspan.
If, however, you’ve neglected those muscles, you’re hopping toward your golden years on one foot.
According to new research out of University of Sydney, strength-based workouts may be just as important as aerobic ones.
The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology, looked at the exercise habits of over 80,000 individuals over time. Here’s what they discovered about people who performed strength-based training:
- They had a 23% reduction in risk of premature death by any means; and
- They were 31% reduction of cancer-related death. (Interestingly, aerobic exercise had almost no impact on cancer death rates.)
If I asked you to name some people you know who have died prematurely of natural causes, you might be stumped. But if I asked if you know (or knew) people with cancer, you’d be nodding, sadly, yes.
The National Cancer Institute says that approximately 39% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of any type at some point during their lifetime, based on 2012-2014 data.
Look around… one of three people you see will get cancer.
I just cited a study of 80,000 people (that’s a huge number of cohorts) that concludes that cancer-suffers have a 31% reduction of death if they’re physically strong. And you have a one-in-three chance of getting cancer.
This implies that if you became stronger your chance of dying from cancer is one-in-nine!
So, whether your motivation is to survive cancer or just want to live as long and healthy as you can, what you want to do is to get stronger.
You simply have to tax your muscles on a regular basis.
The good news is there are lots of ways you can do this. And if you’d rather pound your head against the wall than push a barbell around, you’re in luck, assuming you have a body, because that’s all you need.
The lead researcher of the aforementioned study, Dr. Emmanuel Stamatakis, put it this way:
Many people are intimidated by gyms, the costs or the culture they promote, so it’s great to know that anyone can do classic exercises like triceps dips, sit-ups, push-ups or lunges in their own home or local park and potentially reap the same health benefits.
And, by the way, only two sessions per week is sufficient enough to make a difference.
Dr. Stamatakis also stressed that:
The analysis also showed exercises performed using one’s own body weight without specific equipment were just as effective as gym-based training. When people think of strength training they instantly think of doing weights in a gym, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
(This doesn’t mean that you should toss the aerobics/anaerobic in favor of strength training. Both are necessary, particularly given that aerobic training is associated with a healthy heart, and thereby a reduction in cardiovascular events.)
The World Health Organization recommends that, at minimum, you do muscle-strengthening exercised two days each week as well as 150 minutes of aerobic work out.
Let’s unpack WHO’s recommendations concerning strength training; meaning, just how you might go about getting stronger.
How To Get Stronger
I’m going to use Jason Gulati’s article and his new exercise platform to introduce you to the benefits bodyweight exercise.
Mr. Gulati is an Exercise Physiologist, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and inventor of BaseBlocks, a portable platform for bodyweight exercises.
He wrote a BreakingMuscle article that makes the following points:
- Increasing our muscle mass before we hit our sixties will dim the effect of sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass).
- Increasing muscle mass will increase our resting metabolic rate and tolerance to carbohydrates (meaning, less chance of getting fat by consuming them).
- As you get stronger, you need to increase the resistance.
- Your objective determines the type of muscle/strength building routine you do. (See below.)
You Train Based On What You Want To Achieve
Before you design an exercise program:
- Decide on your purpose;
- What’s available to you (for instance, there’s a gym handy); and
- What’s sustainable (what you’re willing to do consistently long term).
Here are some concepts to keep in mind:
- Volume and intensity have an inverse relationship, meaning that the more intense an exercise is to perform, the less of it you can do. (Volume is either a lot of reps, few sets; or a few reps, lot of sets.)
- The number of repetitions per set determines whether the exercise is aerobic (many reps), muscle building or hypertrophy (about 8 to 12 reps) or primarily strength building (3 to 5 reps), more or less.
- There’s almost zero chance that your resistance training regimen is going to make you look like a body builder, so stop worrying about having to walk thru doorways sideways.
Here are some pointers regarding free-weights/machines and body weight resistance training:
- In both cases, you need your training needs to progressively get harder as you get stronger, known as “progressive overload”.
- When using free-weights/machines, progressive overload occurs by progressively adding more weight.
- When doing calisthenic (body weight) exercise, at some point adding repetitions has diminishing returns relative to getting stronger or more muscular. In this case, you have to make the movement harder, either by adding weight (weight vest, weighted back-pack, dumb bell between your legs, if doing dips or chin-ups), or using one arm or leg.
Below are a few body weight exercises that can be used to substitute traditional lifts. You can see the similarities in the target muscle groups.
Tell me again… what was your excuse?
Beginners need no weight.
|Glutes, Hamstrings, Core|
Best squat for beginners because easier to have proper alignment.
|Bulgarian Split Squat||Quads, Glutes, Core|
|Bent Row||Chin-up/Pull-up||Lats, Biceps, Triceps, Forearms|
|Bench Press||Chest Dip||Shoulders, Triceps, Pecs|
Target your entire body in each workout, particularly if you’re only doing two sessions per week. Your four primary exercise movements include:
- An upper body pressing movement (eg – pushups or dips)
- An upper body pulling movement (eg – rows or chin/pull-ups)
- A lower body movement (eg – goblet squat or Bulgarian single-leg squat)
- A core movement (The squat-type exercises, single-leg deadlift and bent row shown above will strengthen your core — the abdominal trunk — but if you’d like more, check out the next three.
THREE EXERCISES TO STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE
Turning back to BaseBlocks, irrespective of the exercise platform Mr. Gulati invented, what I really like is that he’s properly conceiving the core constituents of resistance training.
He included the following list of exercises organized by primary exercise movements in his Kickstarter fund raising campaign:
Use the above chart to mix and match various exercises so that for each exercise session you’re performing one or more from each category, Upper body pressing, Upper body pulling, Lower body and Core.
If you want to see how any exercise is done, search for it on YouTube or Google Images (try using “gif” along with the search term so you get a moving picture like those above).
Determine Your Interest Level and Plow In
If you’re now all pumped up, ready to “feel the burn” and flip aging on its head (and even cancer), then I have some more material for you to explore, which I’ve organized by strength of your interest:
Casual, Moderate, Bring-It-On!
Naturally, my hope is that you take a peek at each, perhaps warming up with the first, doing some light sets with the second, and then powering through the third.
Remember, we seek to get strong, live long and kick ass on any health issues that get in the way.
For the casual inquirer who may be a Baby Boomer or nearly so, begin with The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Trimming Body Fat, and get loaded up on my “7 Principles for Trimming Body Fat”, including my very own weekly food and exercise cycle.
In my two-part series, How To Get Lean and Muscular, I’ll show you:
- Why you must measure in order to manage improvements in body composition;
- Three methods you can use by yourself to measure your body fat percentage;
- Four ways to assess your flexibility/mobility;
- Five strength measurements; and
- A simple, straightforward method for determining your cardiovascular fitness.
- How to get fit fast at one minute per hour.
- How to get fit in seven minutes four times a week.
- The five essential exercise types that in combination will get you lean and muscular.
- Simple and effective mobility training that keeps your body young.
- Why the zig zag IF/THEN back door keeps your goals in play.
- Five people who can’t help but inspire you through their example.
Bring It On!
If after piling through that, you’re still hungry and perchance want to see video examples of different kinds of exercises for specific muscle groups, then I’ve got a six-part series to share with you: The Functionally Fit Fast Workout:
Part 1 – Intro: Strong, Enduring, Mobile
Part 2 – Warm-up and Mobility
Part 3 – Back, Glutes and Calves
Part 4 – Chest, Shoulders, Thighs
Part 5 – Chest, Biceps, Triceps
Part 6 – Post-exercise Stretching
It’s really simple — to get strong, live long and survive of chronic diseases like cancer, you need to have a strong physical constitution. Get that way by doing resistance and cardio (aerobic and anaerobic) training.
Start with what you can do:
- If you can’t do a push-up off the floor, push off a table or wall.
- If you can’t squat way down, squat down six inches.
- If you can’t pick anything heavy off the floor, pick yourself off the floor (and if you’re too heavy, use the couch for help).
Grab a buddy… in fact, recruit two in case one falls by the wayside.
Go do it.
You’ll love getting stronger.
P.S. Need inspiration? How ’bout 3 years ago, this 78-year-old could barely climb stairs. Now she deadlifts 225 pounds. Or check out these inspirational men and women:
Tao Porchon-Lynch, a 92 year-old yoga instructor.
Sonny Bright started lifting at 44. Phyllis Sues began yoga at 85. Charles Eugster began exercising at 87. Ernestine Shepard started weight lifting at 56. Read about them all in my article, Four Masters Who Defy Age and Prove That You Can Too!