Can Simple Resistance Training Boost Autophagy and Reduce Skeletal Apoptosis as We Age?

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There are some things we don’t want to happen as we get older.

Losing muscle mass and degradation of cells are just two of those things, but account for a huge percentage of how we feel and how we look.

Some view aging as an inevitable downward spiral.

If you’ve been here before, you know I view nothing negative as inevitable. And I will continue to present the evidence that proves otherwise as often as I can.

Resistance training is part of that evidence.

To exhibit how resistance training can help stave off aging and boost your physical performance, even in older years, let’s take a look at this study published in the April 2013 issue of the journal Experimental Gerontology.

Researchers from Soochow University and the Suzhou Health College of Vocational Technology in China noticed that evidence shows autophagic signaling to be altered in aged skeletal muscles. They decided to test to see if resistance training could swing that back in our favor.

First of all, what is autophagy and apoptosis?

Before we go any further, let’s define what we are even talking about here.

Autophagy is a very important mechanism where the body essentially “consumes” its own dead or damaged cells that are no longer useful, effectively cleaning them out of the system and reusing any reusable parts it finds.

If it doesn’t do this, those dead and damaged cells pile up up and accumulate in debris throughout our bodies that we do not want any part of.

Apoptosis is effectively programmed cell death. It’s something we want to encourage in things like cancer cells, but certainly not in skeletal muscles.

We want to hang on to all of those!

Now let’s continue.

The study

Let me begin by saying I am completely against all forms of animal testing. I believe all forms of research can be done without harming animals. But the state of science is what it is, so I present these findings to you for your information, not in support of their methods.

The researchers randomly assigned old male rats to two groups: one sedentary control group and a second group that would perform resistance training exercises.

For reference, the rats in the resistance training group were trained three days a week and the study lasted nine weeks.

At the conclusion of the nine-week period, the researchers found that the rats in the resistance training group not only weighed less than their sedentary counterparts, but had higher muscle weight as well.

Kind of what we’re all looking for too. See the chart below for the specific figures:

TreatmentSedentary control groupResistance training group
BW (g)554 ± 39a489 ± 32a
MW (g)1.75 ± 0.05b1.87 ± 0.06b
MW/BW (mg/g)3.2 ± 0.03c3.8 ± 0.04c

BW = body weight, MW = muscle weight

Additionally, they found that the resistance training led to an increase in autophagy in the aged skeletal muscles of these rats. It also led to a decrease in apoptosis in the aged skeletal muscles.

Remember, more autophagy is better in this case as it clears out the cellular debris instead of allowing it to collect. Less apoptosis is also desirable as we’d rather not have our skeletal muscles dying on us!

So, to summarize, resistance training in these rats led to weight loss, increased muscle mass, increased ability to clear out damaged cells, and a decreased rate of cell death (of the cells we want).

And all at an advanced age.

Assuming this translates in humans, this is excellent news.

No matter who you are

This is some of the best anti-aging news you will hear because you don’t have to have a ton of money or resources to engage in resistance training. As long as you have a body, you can do it.

Of course, you can kick things up a notch with weights, but there are ways to do that inexpensively at home as well.

For example, the core of my workout program entails push-ups, pull-ups, and stair climbing. I add in some dumbbell work because I want to, not because it is necessary.

This is one of the best body building, health enhancing, anti-aging “secrets” out there, and you don’t have to be wealthy to achieve it.

In fact, you can look and feel just as good, if not better, than all the richest Hollywood stars out there, and without any of their resources.

This is the kind of information that we are looking for to change the state of our health and well-being. And it is done on our own terms – no one else’s assistance is needed. The power is in our hands, so please share this information far and wide.

I hope you enjoyed this article today. Thanks for being here and be sure to check back often as more information like this is published. In the meantime, be sure to check out the databases for an easy search of topics you might find interesting.

And see below for a resistance training program that I have personally used and enjoyed. It utilizes resistance training techniques to give more results in less time, great for all of us working adults.


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