Friday, December 21, 2012

The "Hidden Benefit" of Weight Lifting

People lift weights for lots of different reasons, to add lean mass, get stronger for a specific sport, even to mold a buffer beach bod (that's probably numero uno). If you asked someone why they were hoisting iron or chalking up the reps on a machine, however, they would be unlikely to reply, "Oh I'm reducing inflammatory markers of course." Yet this might be one of the most beneficial longterm effects of weight lifting.

An inflammatory marker is a biological signal inside your body for inflammation, which is at the core of most major diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. For example, inflammation causes cell damage and mutates DNA, which can lead to cancer in the longterm. You want to keep inflammation LOW. And weight lifting does it, in ways that other exercise modes do not. In fact hard-pounding cardio type stuff increases inflammation.

A recent study pointed out this benefit rather graphically. They took a group of overweight older women and had them partake in either a resistance-training regimen (3 sets, 10 exercises, 3× per week, 8–12 repetition maximum (RM)) or a "social interaction" regimen that included knitting and stretching, as a control group so that they could have a basis of comparison.

To get the science-y stuff out of the way, they were looking for reductions in C-reactive protein (CRP), IL-6, TNF-α, and leptin (all inflammatory signs), and for whether anti-inflammatory markers like adiponectin and interleukin-10 were augmented by training. Like leptin, adiponectin is a hormone secreted by fat cells.

The results were significant reductions in those inflammatory biomarkers, as well as increases in the "good" biomarkers.

Twelve weeks of moderate–high-intensity RT (8–12 RM) improved whole-body strength (44%) reduced circulating CRP (−33%), leptin (−18%), and TNF-α (−29%) and increased LPS-stimulated IL-10 production (20%) in the absence of detectable changes in body composition.

The body compositions didn't change (even though strength increased a lot, 44 percent), which indicates that the internal effects of weight lifting take place rather efficiently before any evidence of leanness or bigger muscle groups ever occur.

The anti-inflammatory aspects of weight lifting end if you stop training, so you have to keep at it to enjoy the benefits for a lifetime. I know I've kind of shifted from the "endorphin addiction" of running to the post-training benefits of free weights, machines, and bodyweight workouts.

References:

Resistance Training Reduces Subclinical Inflammation in Obese, Postmenopausal Women; Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

Does Adiponectin Cause Or Prevent Alzheimer's Dementia?; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-mendelson-md/alzheimers-_b_1187919.html