In this episode we talk about the importance of having muscle, especially as you age.
Research has shown that exercise is more important as we age than when we were younger.
We talk about the studies showing how more muscle means better cancer survival and how strong muscles mean strong brain.
TRANSCRIPT OF TODAY'S EPISODE
Dr. Martin, Jr.: Hello, I’m Dr. Martin, Jr.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: I’m Dr. Martin, Sr.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: This is The Doctor Is In Podcast, and this episode 131. Today we’re going to talk [00:00:30] about really something that we get asked a fair amount of questions about and that has to do with weight training. Now specifically what we want to talk about today is the concept of strong muscles, strong brain, and then we also want to talk about a study showing increased mortality in breast cancer in women specifically who had more muscle, right? We’ll talk about that.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Increased mortality?
Dr. Martin, Jr.: Yeah. They had a better survival rate when they had more muscles. [00:01:00] A lot of people when they think of exercise, they think of running. They think of all these aerobic type of things. We’re not downplaying those. I think a lot of people shouldn’t be running just based on biomechanics. I think a lot of people get hurt because they don’t know how to run properly. Too much steady state cardio, meaning you’re just constantly keeping the same pace for a long period of time, can actually become catabolic, meaning you start to breakdown muscle for energy. Women especially who are having issues [00:01:30] with muscle mass. Long cardio may not be the best thing for them.
We’ll talk about resistant training, weight training because again a lot of women especially are scared of weight lifting. They think that men who have all this testosterone when they’re younger spend hours in the gym trying to get muscles. A lot of women think if they lift weight two or three times a week, they’re going to all of a sudden have these big bulky massive muscles, and they’re scared of that, right?
Dr. Martin, Sr.: It’s nothing farther from the truth, right?
Dr. Martin, Jr.: No. In fact, a lot of the images they [00:02:00] have of these women are purely as a result of an aggressive amount of steroids. A lot of testosterone. A lot of anabolic steroids for sure. We’ll talk about that. One of the studies that came out just recently was on breast cancer, right? What was interesting about that is they found that the mortality rate was better in women who had more muscle. What’s interesting, the name of the study … It was actually an interesting study. [00:02:30] What they looked at basically was the amount of muscle and specifically with survival in patients with nonmetastatic breast cancer. That’s kind of what they did.
They just looked at the effect that muscle had on it. What they found basically is that sarcopenia … We talked a lot about sarcopenia in the past, right? Then for those who don’t know what sarcopenia is, that’s just basically an abnormal amount of muscle wasting that occurs. As we age [00:03:00] we lose muscle. 8% a decade if we’re not careful, that’s a lot, after the age 40. We can lose a lot of muscle as we age.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: It doesn’t take long, right, when you think about it.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: No, it doesn’t take long. Again treating sports injuries, I remember when I first graduated, somebody broke a bone. They got a cast on or they sprained their ankle. They’d stay off it forever. Then when the cast came off, I mean they had so much atrophy, right? If they had a cast on one leg, it was half the [00:03:30] size of the other because the body works on a premise “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” You would see that. Now that’s changed, right? I mean now even with a broken leg people are soft casting things differently. They’re weight bearing a lot sooner. Even surgeries, people are on their feet a lot faster than they used to be.
They see how fast atrophy sets in and how dangerous it can be. One of the unspoken kind of things about cancer is sarcopenia, right, muscle wasting because [00:04:00] a lot of times what happens in cancer is people’s energy, especially if they start getting a lot of treatment, they just don’t feel good. They become a lot less mobile, and they’re definitely a lot more stationery. They just lose a ton of muscle.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Very exhausted a lot of times, right, too from the effects of treatment.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: They don’t feel good, so it’s pretty hard to go and build muscle when you’re not feeling good. Going into cancer with more muscle, they wanted to look at and just see what the effect was.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: They did well.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: Yeah. There was a [00:04:30] definite improvement in women who had more muscle mass. That’s just one aspect of why you want to build muscle mass is because if you ever get sick, you’re not going to get sarcopenia as fast as somebody else. Sarcopenia, it’s not a benign issue, right? A lot of times it’s like everybody knows about osteoporosis, but osteoporosis always comes pretty much hand-in-hand with sarcopenia.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: You used to say this. I like this because you [00:05:00] used to say that bones are not independent, right? They’re not independent of your muscles, right? Strong muscles, strong bones, right? Good circulation, strong bones. We talk about that with osteopenia and osteoporosis. They’ve proven it. We’re always telling women, “Look, I mean if you’ve got any …” Of course, we do hormones. We talk about low levels of progesterone [00:05:30] often is a key factor in poor quality of bone. There’s a lot of things going on, but again you just can’t go wrong by going to the gym. I mean you just can’t go wrong. You don’t even have to go the gym. You can do resistant exercises.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: Yeah. Start with body weight stuff. Absolutely. Going back to that breast cancer study, what’s interesting is there was over 3,000 women in the [00:06:00] study. They have been diagnosed with either stages 2 or 3 breast cancer.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Pretty aggressive.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: Pretty aggressive. Basically what they found was this, that higher muscle mass meant better survival rates regardless of the woman’s age or cancer stage. More muscle, better survival rates. They also found that lower muscle mass on the other hand was associated with a higher risk of death. Going into cancer, all things being equal, not even [00:06:30] talking about anything else that we would talk about when it comes to cancer, having more muscle mass going into cancer increases your odds of surviving. Lifting weights. That’s the thing. Lifting weights is very, very underrated for the health.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Well, we talked a lot about it because we know the benefits. I mean if you look at the physiology, what happens when you’re … We always talk about what causes [00:07:00] cancer. Breast cancer, the vast majority. You know what? I understand about your cells being estrogen receptive or not. I had a woman in the office the other day and she said, “Well, my cancer is not receptive to estrogen.” I said, “Yes, it is.” I mean you might not have what they call estrogen receptive cancer, right, where they actually … I mean they know that the estrogen you’re absolutely … That’s what caused your cancer. [00:07:30] I said, “I have never seen an exception to it.” Estrogen in the wrong places is not a good thing.
If it’s running into your breast tissue, ladies, it causes growth, right? So does insulin. What does muscle have to do with that, right? What is muscle?
Dr. Martin, Jr.: Well, and that’s the interesting thing, right? What’s funny, right? People talk about like a basal metabolic rate, right? Your metabolism for example. How many calories [00:08:00] or how much energy you burn in a day. Well, the one way to increase your metabolism, the one way to increase the amount of energy you burn in a day is to have more muscle mass. More muscle mass means more energy burning in a day. More metabolism, right? That’s how it is. Muscle is also a storage unit for glycogen. When you eat food and it’s broken down, if you’re not burning it off as energy right away, then you have to do something with that glucose so it goes into storage.
[00:08:30] You have three places that you store glucose, right? You have your muscles, your liver and then you have an unlimited amount of storage in fat cells. You only have so much storage in your muscles. You have only so much storage in your liver, and then it spills over into your fat cells. The more muscle mass you have, the more glycogen you can store. I mean there’s a lot of benefits to having more muscle. There’s no question. There seems to be also a correlation between [00:09:00] sarcopenia and health. No question, right? Somebody is sarcopenic …
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Well, that’s why you can be skinny and be very unhealthy.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: Oh yeah. That’s another thing that we talk about. We wrote an article a while ago on what does health mean and how that can change so much depending on who you’re talking to, right? Depending on who you’re talking to, a doctor may say it’s the absence of symptoms or the absence of blood test in a sense. [00:09:30] If your blood tests are normal, you’re healthy even though the person may not feel good or whatsoever, right? There’s a lot of different definitions of health. What’s interesting is that some people would say that if you’re thin, you’re healthy. Obviously that’s so stupid. I mean there are a lot of thin people who aren’t well. One of the problems that thin people have is muscle mass.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Sarcopenia.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: Now one of the most common conditions today when it comes to obesity is this term called obesity and sarcopenia [00:10:00] mishmashed together. There are a lot of people that are obese and they have no muscle mass. It’s incredible when you think about it. It’s not like they’re carrying more muscle mass necessarily. They’re sarcopenic. They are obese and sarcopenic.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: That’s a deadly combination.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: That’s a terrible combination. That’s a very common thing. Yeah, a person is overfed, but they’re under nutrients, their muscles and their bones. You can overweight or obese and still be osteoporosis. It’s amazing, right? I mean [00:10:30] it’s one of those things that … One of the things we want to do if you’re listening to this podcast, we want to encourage you. It doesn’t matter how old you are. I’m going to through a couple studies in a second here. It doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s never too late to start lifting weights. Again just even saying lifting weights means a lot of different things for a lot of different people, right?
I mean again we’re telling you you want to lift things. That’s the point. You want some resistance training. The more resistance training you do …
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Go [00:11:00] slow.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: That’s right.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Start with five pounds and do some curls.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: If you’re worried, get a trainer. Studies have shown this and this is fascinating because we tend to think of things backwards in a lot of ways. Studies have shown that there’s more benefit to exercise as you age than you are when you’re younger. A lot of the benefit to exercise when you’re younger is aesthetic, how you look. As you get older, it helps everything.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Well, you know what? You know this because [00:11:30] you did so much looking at … You even helped me a lot in terms of flexibility. My job unfortunately, I’m sitting all day, right? I sit and talk to patients all day long. It’s just what I do. I mean I can’t stand up and talk over them, right? I’m sitting. You really had me get into the gym and be very specific on strengthening my core, my hamstrings, my upper back. It’s made an [00:12:00] enormous difference. I mean I can just tell people listening that it has made an enormous difference in me. It’s not like I was unhealthy before.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: No, and you were in the gym before. It wasn’t like you weren’t … You used to be a big runner for a long time.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: 40 years.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: It’s not like you weren’t in the gym all the time. It’s just that we kind of had you switch your focus a little bit to strengthening those hamstrings, strengthening certain things.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: It’s made an enormous difference.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: Yeah.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: I can just tell you [00:12:30] with my flexibility.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: Well, the fact of like those squats that you’re doing, opening the hips up and all those kind of things, right? Again you don’t have to do squats. You don’t have to put a weight across your shoulder to do a squat. You can grab onto a couple of dumbbells or kettlebells, or you could do body weight stuff. The point is even for anti-aging, for your health, there’s a tremendous amount of benefit to having muscle. Again as you get older and you’re worried about cancer, you’re worried about all these things, you definitely want [00:13:00] to use resistance training, weight training as a tool in the toolbox to help protect yourself. No question.
It also gives you, as we mentioned, a better chance at surviving cancer all things being equal, right? That’s one of them. Now another underrated aspect of weight training that most people don’t realize is that there’s a lot of studies showing that weight training is a very effective way to not only prevent, but also [00:13:30] delay that low grade systemic inflammatory problems that people have, right? Chronic inflammation is an accelerator of aging. You want to age faster, bring up your inflammation levels. You’re going to age really quickly. One tool to fight that off aside from diet and nutrients is specifically resistance training, weight training.
Weight training is a tremendous anti-inflammatory. Specifically when I say that, I mean that low grade [00:14:00] inflammation that happens just from living, right? Living causes inflammation. Life happens. It helps fight some of that off. It’s a tremendous tool. I mean the studies have shown that repeatedly that lifting weights is a great natural anti-inflammatory in a lot of ways, specifically when it comes to inflammatory diseases, right? It helps prevent and lower that. Studies have shown that. Also, there was study done that I found [00:14:30] interesting as well is that resistance training … One of the markers of aging is the length of telomeres, right?
I mean telomeres basically are these little caps, are the ends of your chromosomes, right? The longer your telomeres …
Dr. Martin, Sr.: The healthier you are. The longer you live.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: That’s right. I tell people it’s kind of like the wick of a candle. The longer the wick of the candle, the longer the candle’s going to burn. When that candle’s wick gets shorter, the candle’s in trouble, [00:15:00] right? That’s how your telomeres are. Just imagine this candle wick at the end of your chromosome and that’s your telomeres. That’s what they’re called. Studies have shown longer telomeres, longer life. Shorter telomeres, shorter life. You want longer telomeres. You know what’s interesting is that one of the first nutrients to show that actually increased the length of telomeres was pine bark extract, right?
Pine bark extract actually increases the length of telomeres. It’s fantastic for anti-aging.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: That’s why I take it everyday.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: However, weight training [00:15:30] does the same. Weight training is also another tool to help lengthen …
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Those telomeres.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: There was a study done that looked at adult’s physical activity and specifically weight training, and they found out that they have longer telomeres. They went on to say that that accounts for the years of reduced cellular aging that they found in these people compared to somebody who’s not doing it. Again weight training helps you build muscle mass. It [00:16:00] helps prepare you to fight cancer better. It also lengthens your telomeres, so it increases life span in a sense. It also decreases cellular aging that we just read. I mean there are so many benefits to …
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Have we convinced you yet?
Dr. Martin, Jr.: Let’s talk about another study. We kind of let off this episode by saying strong muscle, strong brain. There’s a direct correlation. Studies have shown that exercise, specifically high intensity interval training or resistance [00:16:30] training, increase muscle strength that led directly to improved brain function. Strong muscles, strong brain. Strong muscles, strong heart. I mean we can go on and on with all these studies showing the benefits.
What we want you to kind of takeaway from this is that listen, if you’re listening to this and you’re not lifting weights, I could show you studies of elderly, people in their eighties, lifting weights and showing drastic benefits [00:17:00] to them for their brain and everything. Muscles, bones, everything.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Getting out of a chair. Get out of your car. You see people, you watch people, you observe, right? You see people they just crawl. They can barely get out of a chair and barely move. They’re in a car. To get out of a car, it takes them a long time just because they’ve lost that flexibility.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: [00:17:30] Flexibility, it’s the strength. It’s the tensile strength of those muscle to contract to get them out of stuff. They can’t do it. One of the better indicators of long life is that getting off the floor study where can you get off without touching too many things. Also, grip strength is another indicator of longevity. I mean you see people they have no grip strength left. Now a lot of medications that people take really affect people’s strength, but that’s another episode in the future.
The point [00:18:00] is this, if you want a better brain, if you want a better heart, if you want to increase your life span, if you want to give yourself a better chance of fighting off cancer, you need more muscle mass. You need more lean muscle mass. You’ve got to build muscle. The only way to build muscle is to lift weights and consume enough protein. Those are two absolute musts that if you’re not doing, if you’re not getting enough protein, eat more protein. If [00:18:30] you’re not lifting weights, lift weights. If you’re lifting weights here and there, be consistent. It’s not like they have to go everyday.
A lot of these studies show benefits even three days a week. Get out there three days a week. Lift weights. If you’re not sure what to do, get a trainer. It’s worth the investment for a few weeks just to get a little bit of familiarity. Again as I mentioned, we kind of look at things backwards. All these young guys and girls, they’re hitting the gym and they’re doing it for aesthetic purposes, [00:19:00] right? What’s interesting with that is that a lot of them are not healthy because they’ll take hormones. They’ll take all these things. They’ll cut their weight. They’ll drastically reduce their calorie content and they don’t feel good.
They got no energy. They’re not sleeping, but they look good, right? That’s what they want to do. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about true health. Lifting weights for the purpose of anti-aging. You get more benefits lifting weights at middle age and as we get older than you do [00:19:30] when you’re younger. It’s not too late to start because I can pull up study after study that show women in their sixties starting, getting results for their brain, cognitive, heart. Seventies. Eighties. It’s amazing what it does. The point is this, if you’re not lifting weights, start lifting weights regardless if you have or haven’t.
We want to thank you for listening to this episode. If you have any questions, you can just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You do a Facebook Live every Thursday morning.
Dr. Martin, Sr.: Thursday morning.
Dr. Martin, Jr.: 8:30. You could jump on there, ask your questions. Fantastic. [00:20:00] A lot of interaction. If you’re not a newsletter subscriber, why not? Go to our website martinclinic.com and sign up. We talk again about a lot of these things in our newsletters, and it’s just a great way for us to break down studies and share that with you. Again we want to thank you for listening. Have a good day.