The average man as he ages loses muscle and gets weaker. Recall life before easy access to automobiles, television, power tools, electric utilities, and a service-industry economy. Many tasks once performed by the sweat of the brow are now executed at the flick of a switch.

This is not concerned solely with the way we make our livings. Any parent observing his or her children in front of a TV or video game realizes childhood fun used to rely more on bike riding, ballgames, and hikes through the woods.

Adult amusement, too, has entered the technology age. When was the last time you enjoyed a Sunday picnic? Thanks to the NFL, the NBA, the PGA and other darlings of the cable and commercial TV and movie industries, there is hardly reason to leave our air-conditioned livingrooms.

Our quantum leap in technology has resulted in a steady decline of physiology. The physical demands -- and enjoyments -- of everyday living are simply not what they used to be. We're living longer because of better medicine. But living even longer stronger requires investment in the good health habits this book is about.

Muscle Breakdown

Research show that the average man relinquishes a half-pound of muscle per year between the ages of 20 and 50. This average man is one who does not engage in regular strength-building exericse. As a 50-year-old, this man's body is 15 pounds less muscular than at age 20.

So what! you could say, were this not a health concern with grave biomarker impact, as we read in the previous chapter. The loss of muscle/strength -- and thus probable decline in all 8 other biomarkers -- is strictly from a lack of use. Sooner or later, this disuse is likely to manifest itself in a physical ailment such as a heart attack, arthritis, or a degenerative disk. From their, many times, it's a steady downward spiral.

Strength may not be a panacea, but of the factors over which we have some control, it is a critical one. The aches and pains of so-called old age can be averted. We want you to understand the perils of ignoring muscle.

The technical term for the breakdown of muscle tissue from disuse is atrophy. The process of atrophy involves metabolic breakdown of muscle into its constituent compounds, which are removed by the bloodstream.

Atrophied muscle does not turn into fat. Muscle and fat are composed of different cells, and it's impossible to turn one into the other.

Muscle cells that atrophy simply lose their fluids, become smaller and weaker, and lessen their ability to contract.

Lower Horsepower

As the engines of the body, weaker muscles mean lower horsepower. A marked decline in performance results.

Have you ever had a fractured limb that spent several weeks in a cast? How did it feel when the cast was removed? Was there not pain in the affected joint and limitations on what you were able to do, at least for a short while?

The muscles of your casted limp atrophied. Because of the total immobility, they did so rapidly.

Without proper strength training many of us places our entire bodies into a cast of sedentary living. The effects are more insidious than what we experience, for instance, with a fractured arm, but they take a similar toll.

Fuel of High Achievement

The most recent statistics I've seen tells us that about 17 percent of the American adult population exercise on a regular basis. This is less than one in five. Exercise participation among cheif executive officers of major corporations, however, is approximately 37 percent, almost two in five.

Do CEOs exercise because they are high achievers? Are they high achievers because they exercise? We don't know for sure, but a plausible theory is that the discipline of regular exercise, as well as its effect on health and vigor, contributes to the achievement of lofty goals.

It should also be pointed out that it's likely these executives have little fat on their time schedules. They recognize that exercise is not something for which they take time, but that they make time for it.

Fortunately, today we have efficient exercise tools and useful information that enables adequate strength fitness to be achieved in as little as three 20-minute workouts per week. You don't have to be a gym rat, a muscle head, or a fitness fanatic. Effective exercise can be factored into your life similar to a hygiene habit. Just as you shave and bathe on a regular basis, not much more time is required to exercise, which you will read more about later.

Strength training is an integral element of vibrant living. Time invested in averting Easy-Chair Atrophy pays bonus dividends that mature decade after decade.

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