More Anti Muscle Media Bias!
As most know who have been weight lifting for more then a few years, there is a general anti muscle bias that exists in the general (read fat and lazy) population and the media. There is even something of an anti muscle bias in science and medicine I find, even when study after study shows having more muscle then the average person offers many advantages from a health and performance perspective.
Modern medical science has finally caught on to the reality that muscle tissue is much more then just something that attaches to your skeleton to help you move your body or carry your groceries. It’s an essential part of your health, intimately connected to immunity as well as a long list of other benefits. A perfect example of that was found in a recent report called “Men with big muscles cut cancer risk by 40 per cent” which covered an interesting study. From the media report:
“In recent years, experts have recommended a healthy diet and lifestyle – including regular aerobic exercise such as jogging or cycling to reduce the risks of the disease. But the latest study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, suggests it may be just as important to build up muscle strength. A team of experts, led by scientists from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, tracked the lifestyles of 8,677 men aged between 20 and 82 for more than two decades.”
So far so good, and as the reader can see, a large study that ran a long time. The study found those men who regularly worked out showed significantly lower rates of cancer, and most interesting was the effect was constant “Even among volunteers who had excess tummy fat or a high body mass index, regular weight training seemed to have a protective effect.”
However, and as one should expect, these researchers stressed keeping a healthy weight was still an essential part of avoiding various diseases. The researchers recommend regular weight training in light of these findings. But then, that odd anti muscle bias seems to creep in. Ergo, a spokesman for Cancer Research UK Health information officer Jessica Harris is quoted as saying “There’s no need to become a body builder. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week that leaves you warm and slightly out of breath can have a positive effect.”
There’s so many things wrong with the above, it’s hard to know where to start, but here’s some thoughts:
• There’s a looooooooooong way, time, and effort, between being a “bodybuilderæ and “30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week that leaves you warm and slightly out of breath.”
• As anyone who has spent any time in a gym knows (and we all know that eliminates most scientists but I digress!) building muscle is not easy, so “30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week that leaves you warm and slightly out of breath”is not going to do jack you-know-what for actually increasing muscle mass. In fact, it may not even prevent the loss of muscle mass that happens with age, a condition known as sarcopenia. People interested in learning more about sarcopenia, can read my article on the topic here: Sarcopenia, the undiagnosed epidemic
• I’m sure the medical/scientific community does not want to scare people away from resistance exercise (e.g., weight training) by actually admitting they will have to work hard in the gym to actually see any effects on muscle mass and strength, but giving people faulty advice that will not lead to the results they want does not seem like a productive way to accomplish anything other then to confuse people.
• I know hard work is a four letter word these days, but there’s no free lunch, there’s no Santa, no Easter Bunny, and getting the known health benefits of muscle mass (not to mention the aesthetic benefits!) does in fact take dedication, a bit of thought and planning, and – sorry to say- hard work with loads/weights heavy enough to kick your a$$. Lifting a beer to my mouth a hundred times will leave some “warm and slightly out of breath” but it aint going to build any muscles!
See you in the gym!