Sunday, April 14, 2019

To the gym?

This press release in advance of a poster presentation is doing the rounds on social media at the moment:

Ability to lift weights quickly can mean a longer life

A factual association is probably true between being above the median in ability to do work on a specifically selected gym machine and longevity.

What does this mean? It's observational. Hypothesis generation only.

Perhaps non-athletes with higher power output might live longer because they have excellent mitochondria and our mitochondria are essentially what determine our longevity. Having good mitochondria might well mean that you exercise spontaneously without describing yourself as an athlete. As in I might carry a couple of sacks of chicken food myself rather than wait for Paul the yard-man and his barrow. But this is an effect, not a cause.

Non-athletes with low power output may be the converse. They have mitochondria in which the cardiolipins anchoring their cytochrome-C to the mitochondrial inner membrane are as flimsy as a PUFA in a deep fat fryer, which are willing to trigger apoptosis at the drop of a superoxide molecule. Poor mitochondria, less muscle fibres giving sarcopaenia, shorter longevity. Probably already giving diabetes in-situ. An AHA poster-child.

Taking someone from the second category and making them exercise might convert them to being healthy with a long life span. Maybe.

Or, there again, it might make the gym sessions so unbearable that they quit.

Or, if you don't let them quit, it might simply make no difference.

Or, if you don't let them quit, it might kill them sooner!

As Eeyore said "think of all the possibilities, Piglet, before you settle down to enjoy yourselves".

The study (as per press release) tests nothing. Researchers are giving very specific advice based on an untested observation which might be going to make them look very, very stupid when the results of an intervention to test their hypothesis actually refutes it. But that will take decades and hopefully the researches will be retired by then. More likely it will be ignored or termed a paradox. All the possibilities Piglet.......

EDIT or the intervention might show benefit. That's not impossible! END EDIT

Peter

Declaration: I have nothing against exercise. Nowadays I mostly boulder because it is three dimensional problem solving using muscle groups to failure on a regular basis. Plus I also try to keep my cardiolipins as saturated as practical!

10 comments:

adamkern8 said...

Hi Peter,

Sorry it’s sort of off topic. I know you’ve said that LC helped you acne. Has it completely resolved? And if not, do you wonder why?
Thanks

Peter said...

Hi Adam,

It took a long time but I've been free for several years now. The very occasional shoulder pimple I guess still. I do get rather dry skin through the winter which resolves completely in the summer. I'd guess vitD on that one. Does seem to resolve if I remember to supplement, which I forget much of the time...

Peter

adamkern8 said...
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adamkern8 said...
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Passthecream said...

Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?'
'Supposing it didn't,' said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.



At one of my places of employment my office is up a long steep flight of C19th stairs and I go up and down them 20, 30 40 times a day often carrying weighty things. My legs are very well muscled as a result but now I am worried that they will live longer than me.

Peter said...

Heehee. Will that double your funeral expenses? At least half will be deferred!!!!!

Peter

Ryan Tobin said...

Ugh. It's these kinds of "scientific" papers/studies that do horrible disservice to people trying to improve health/fitness by strength training.

Muscles do not produce mechanical power because muscles do not perform mechanical work. They perform metabolic work. Attempting to measure/gauge muscular output via mechanical work/power leads to all sorts of erroneous conclusions. For example, stand and push against a wall as hard as you can. Neither you nor the wall move (force applied over a distance of zero), thus no mechanical work was performed and no mechanical power was produced. Did your muscles do nothing?

Muscles produce force (or torque, depending on how you want to look at it). This is what we colloquially consider to be muscular strength. Velocity (speed) is a byproduct of the application of that force, not something muscles directly produce. This fundamental physics understanding is, unfortunately, something that is not taught to nearly everyone in the realm of exercise science.

In practice, to advocate that people strength train "as fast as possible" is horrendous advice based on misunderstandings of physics and muscular physiology. This is how people get injured.

Peter said...

Ryan, I have no problem with people engaging in structured strength training and I suspect it will actually help delay the illnesses which come with age. But an observational study of people, non of whom describe themselves as athletes, is no basis for predicting the future of presently sedentary people made to exercise for the rest of their lives! It's a hopeful crystal ball view dressed up as "science"!

Peter

ctviggen said...

Hi Peter, try some extra iodine for a while and see what happens to those dry parts of your skin. I've been taking iodine and it seems to have caused the dry patches to clear (though, of course, one can never be sure; need an RCT for this, but there's only me).

I like strength training, mainly because it's the best exercise for stress I've found. I work 1/2 my body in 30 minutes, the other 1/2 two days later, then no weight lifting for a week. (I combine these with HIIT, too.) There might be some benefit to having muscles as insulin sinks, but for me, the main benefits are stress reduction and I feel better. Will I live longer? Who the heck knows. Will I feel better for the life I do live? I think so.

Ryan Tobin said...

Perhaps I misspoke.

I am not opposed to (proper) strength training. Quite the opposite, I think everyone who has functional limbs should be participating in a proper strength training program.

My issue is with the presentation in the cited paper, as that is the kind of advice that isn't predicated in the mindset of improving quantity and quality of life.

Alas, the exercise industry is as rife with rogues and rodents as the diet industry...