I read another study this week on the amazing benefits of muscle, this time on increasing survival rates from cancer. This is yet more evidence that you should be doing resistance training; just a few minutes every week could be enough to increase muscle and gain the benefits for your health.


The study looked into why the ‘Obesity Paradox‘ exists in cancer survival rates. The obesity paradox is a phenomenon where obese individuals, despite being at higher risk for developing certain diseases, including cancer, tend to have better survival rates compared to their leaner counterparts after diagnosis.


Many researchers feel that the obesity paradox exists due to several factors. First, BMI (Body Mass Index) doesn’t account for muscle mass. Heavier individuals may have more muscle mass, which could contribute to better outcomes. Additionally, there may be design faults in some studies that fail to properly account for confounding variables.


There exists, it seems, a correlation between low muscle mass and high body fat and cancer survival. Individuals with higher muscle mass may have better outcomes due to factors such as improved insulin sensitivity, lower inflammation, and enhanced immune function.


Long-term health is ultimately a process of balancing probabilities versus living your life. While obvious bad probabilities include smoking, excess alcohol intake, good ones include factors like adequate sleep, consuming vegetables, and engaging in regular aerobic exercise. There is enough evidence now to clearly add doing resistance training and having more muscle to the list of good behaviours.


Yet most people do not exercise at all, and even those who do, most engage in aerobic activities over muscle development. All exercise is on a spectrum, from aerobic to resistance training. For example, to someone who hasn’t walked due to injury for a long time, even the simple act of walking would build muscle. Along these lines gardening counts as resistance activities, as does moving boxes or climbing stairs. However, whether this is enough to increase baseline muscle to improve your health chances and extend quality life years is hard to judge.


The safest way to cover that base is to engage in resistance exercises. A general definition of resistance training is performing a movement that means your muscles want to take a rest between 1 to 20 repetitions. The key point here is that the muscles tell you to stop, rather than your brain says it is time to stop as I have done 10, or 15 or that you are bored. On the flipside, it does not need to be devasting pain pushed to total collapse. 


This is what weight training is, you get a weight, maybe a dumbbell, or your own body weight or perhaps a resistance band. You do a movement until the muscles feel tired, you stop and rest for a bit, then do it again. Select a few movements that target the whole body and if you do that say once a week for a year or two then further down the line you will have grown some nice muscle to get the health benefits that come along with it. 


The biggest blocks to getting these benefits are firstly, that you do not know what to do, and then that you do not follow that initial plan to establish a habit of doing it. To form a habit, you will need to do roughly between 20 to 70 repetitions of it. So, at say twice a week, after 3 months you could say you have developed a habit of doing it. After six months it will be firmly established and then you should be on automatic after that


For regular exercisers, the main issues is increasing the resistance and stimulus of lifting so that you do not get stuck on a plateau and instead continue to make muscle gains going forwards. There are some very simple methods to doing this which could serve you for life, such as using a rotation scheme of how many reps you are doing each month. 


You do not have to join a gym to do resistance training. My member’s area has over 30+ follow along home workouts that you can do using your body weight and a just couple of exercise bands. A simple daily resistance routine can be enough to get the benefits as well, all in just a few minutes.

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