Monthly Archives: October 2010

Stronger, faster, younger?

If you follow me on Facebook, I’ve shown you examples over the months of women in the 50s, 60s, .. heck nearly their 90s- who have started lifting weights in their later years.  One thing these women have in common?  None of them look their age.

Now we might argue that they are blessed with special genes that keep them looking younger, but there is some scientific evidence that their participation in strength training has a lot to do with their younger appearance.  And it’s NOT just appearance.  These women report having the energy of people as much as half their age.

I’ve said before that lifting is a fountain of youth.  Now the science is proving me right and explaining how this anti-aging happens.

Telemeres cap DNA cells

Osher Center for Integrated Medicine, UCSF

Scientists believe that this can be explained by examining telomeres (the yellow dots on the picture at the left).  These are “caps” that seal the end of our DNA chains protecting the DNA from damage.  As each cell divides and reproduces these caps can wear,fray and break creating shorter telomeres.  Eventually these telomeres disappear completely, leading to DNA damage.  The researchers believe that this results in the aging process.

The researchers who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine last year, did so by studying and defining the actions of telomeres with exercise. They discovered that those individuals who exercised vigorously 3 hours or more a week had longer telomeres than those who didn’t.  This data was adjusted for all other common variables such as smoking, weight, socio-economic conditions, age.  Even more impressive: individuals who began a strength training program had their telomeres lengthen after beginning their exercise program and those who trained the most vigorously had telomere lengths equal to sedentary individuals 10 years younger.

This is proof that on a cellular level at least exercise truly is the fountain of youth.

Is this enough to convince individuals to get up off the couch and start walking, playing tennis, or lifting?  Somehow I doubt it.  We can’t see our DNA – reading about it is hardly motivation to start working out.  For me, however, it re-enforces the idea that working hard will help me to live a healthy life longer.  When I hit a point where I want to quit – this kind of information will let me push through.

How about you?  Could a scientific report ever motivate you to work harder? Go further?  Or simply get off the couch?



When it comes to Sport Team Loyalty- I am a Sheep

Wednesday evenings promises to be the beginning of an epic World Series-one of the most watchable competitions in years.  Yet I know that many baseball fans feel completely uninterested.  Why?  Because the biggest series in baseball is being played between two of the smaller teams in the league. Absent for the fall classic this year are: The Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves and the Dodgers. There are no teams east of the Mississippi playing, no huge payroll clubs, none of the darlings of the media.

I pity anyone who thinks just because a “big name” team isn’t playing, they have no stake in this series.  I want to suggest that this year you remember the rule of the sheep from BABE (the movie, not Ruth) and embrace the series for the pride of your league.

What? Sheep? Babe? Before I completely lose you here, let me remind of the super-secret sheep oath shared in the movie:

(from the movie: Babe)

Let me rephrase this for you:

Growing up as a Cleveland Indian fan, I have had to embrace this philosophy most of my life like so many other team fans.  To give up watching post-season baseball simply because my team was not playing meant I would NEVER watch a game.  (OK – there have been a few exception years… but not many).  I learn new things about the sport I love and the players.  With free-agency meaning that players scatter around the league like dandelion seeds this knowledge often come in handy.

So no matter which team holds your heart, remember – they play in a division and a league.  And the best team in your league is playing for LEAGUE PRIDE.

The American League is the power league at the moment -where every great player wants to be.  If your team plays in the AL, then you HAVE to get behind Texas Rangers.  They truly represent the idea of a team.  Because one of their stars (Josh Hamilton) is a very public recovering drug and alcohol addict, the TEAM celebrates with ginger ale. (stops for a second and tries to imagine the Yankees doing the same.   —Nope.  Can’t see it.) How could an American league fan NOT want to watch and root for this team to win?

National leaguers?  The best pitching squad in baseball -maybe one of the best squads EVER.  Be proud that this pitching staff is representing your league.

Facts to make the game more interesting:

  • Benjie Molina played the first half of the year with SF Giants, before being traded to the Rangers.  As he bid his teammates fairwell, he told them they would see each other again in October.  Because he played half the season with both teams- he will receive a ring no matter which team wins.
  • Giants players Pat Burrell and Audrey Huff (college roommates) were AL “discards” who many thought were at the end of their careers.  They were instrumental in igniting Giants bats this year and have shows NL managers that they have a new source of short term talent to watch in the future.
  • Brian Wilson decided to grow his beard on a 2 week long road trip in August as part of a sign of bullpen solidarity.  Wilson’s is colored (in case you couldn’t tell).  But why?  He wears shoes with bright orange cleats -that used to have more bright orange on them.  Then MBL informed him that his shoes must be at least 51% black.  And Wilson, following his own logic, is making sure that his beard is covered under a 51% black rule too -just in case.  Although he claims his beard color is Just For Men’s medium brown.

Although my childhood in Cleveland means I should be cheering for the Texas Rangers (and during the regular season I DO cheer for the local Oakland A’s), I have indundated daily with the quirks and charms of the San Francisco Giants.  The personalities have charmed me – so I am betraying my league and being true to my “home region” this year.   May my league forgive me.

Listening to My Body

Last week, out of the blue my body said: Deb, I would love to do some pistol squats.

Now for someone who hasn’t exercised much in the past 6 months, is recovering from shoulder surgery THAT is an insane thought.  Pistols are advanced squats: single leg squats.

There was not going to be a great likelihood that I could actually perform these.  But that wasn’t the real message.  My body was trying to tell me that I needed to do some unilateral leg work (working one leg at a time).  As soon as I started doing so, I discovered that my left leg muscle weakness is back.  Listening to my body -and interpreting it much like dreams- is a secret to knowing not only what I want to do in the gym, but what I NEED to do.

Now I have regressed the move to something I can do: a box version of the pistol using a stick for additional balance – because SOMEDAY I do want to do a pistol squat.  Most of the time, though, I’m working on step ups, single leg presses and lunges.  It’s all HARD – but it’s an appropriate level of hard for my muscles at the moment.

Listening to our bodies is can be an important tool in our ongoing fitness.  Taking things at face value, though, is not often the wisest way to go.

What has your body ever said to you?

Why I Lift


I LIFT to remain independant.

I LIFT to be and feel strong.

I LIFT to challenge myself.

I LIFT to develop huge beads of sweat and drip on the gym floor from my nose, earlobes, chin, and hair.

I LIFT to show other women that they, too, can do it.

I LIFT to stay young- physically and mentally.

I LIFT to look good in my clothes.

I LIFT because I can.

Why do you do what you do?