Both aerobic training and strength training are typically recommended for health, but strength training is often mentioned as an afterthought. Aerobic provides many health benefits and it is recommended to do it for 30 minutes a day several times a week (or several shorter, more intense sessions). The importance of strength training is mostly mentioned for maintaining muscle mass as we age. It also contributes to maintaining bone density. These reasons are important in themselves. For these purposes, it is recommended to strength train, covering major muscle groups, a couple of times a week.
But there is another equally vital reason to strength train. It turns out our muscle cells contribute to our metabolic health by producing molecules called “myokines”. To see some ways they play a part in our health, check out references 1 and 2 (here and here). Ref 2 emphasizes that aerobic training and anaerobic training (such as intervals or strength training) both help, but in different ways. So I will continue to hedge my bets and do both.
I learned about myokines in the book Deep Fitness by Philip Shepherd (Author), Andrei Yakovenko. The main contribution of this book is explaining the importance of strength training. But the authors also make two other contributions.
One is to give excellent instruction on how to do strength training mindfully. I have previously !! mentioned how I like to do strength training mindfully, it makes it more relaxing, similar to doing yoga. The other important contribution of the book is a specific technique, mindfulness strength training to failure (MSTF). This is one set of exercises for each major muscle group, done slowly and mindfully until you can’t complete another rep. Once a week is enough to stimulate significant strength gains. They show how to do this with both machines if you have access to a gym, or resistance bands at home.
I have tried their MSTF method and it is challenging, but enjoyable if you follow the advice on doing it mindfully. I recommend the book if you want good motivation for strength training, and if you want to try the time-efficient MSTF method.
Ho, B, et al “Exercise-induced myokines in health and metabolic diseases”, Integr Med Res, 2014. Online here.Kwan, J, et al, “Exercise-Induced Myokines can Explain the Importance of Physical Activity in the Elderly: An Overview”, Healthcare 2020. Online here.
by Philip Shepherd (Author), Andrei Yakovenko (Auth