Dr Michael Mosley: ‘It certainly surprised me’ – easy activity to improve strength
Dr Mosley explains the difference between good and bad carbs
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“Apparently the easy bit, the bit, where you’re going down [a hill] is actually one of the quickest ways to make you stronger,” shared the host in his podcast Just One Thing. While the obvious choice for boosting your strength might be going up the hill, the opposite seems to be true, the podcast host explained.
“And it’s not just running downhills. It’s any exercise where you’re lengthening muscle under resistance,” said Dr Mosley.
The type of exercise he’s referring to is also known as eccentric.
He continued: “When we contract our muscles like a bicep curl, that is concentric exercise.
“When we lower the arm back down, that’s eccentric.”
The doctor explained it could be anything from yoga to using weights.
Dr Mosley said: “Not only will eccentric exercises keep you in good shape, but it could help your body to keep on burning more calories when you finished.
“Eccentric exercise is actually really important for all sorts of health benefits, including muscle repair and growth, flexibility and bone density.
The podcaster invited Tony Kay, Professor of Biomechanics at the University of Northampton, to join the podcast and explain how it works.
Mr Kay said: “The exercise itself does create microscopic damage – I’m talking about microscopic tears.
“What that then does is stimulate hormonal responses.
“And with nutrition and rest, and sleep over the next couple of days, you would then rebuild that muscle to a new higher, stronger level.
“Now, eccentric exercise has been consistently shown to create greater microscopic damage than a concentric exercise.”
What’s more, eccentric exercise is even trialled by research. The professor looked at the impact of eccentric work-out in young healthy footballers. This showed “dramatic increases” in strength.
He continued: “And we’ve performed the same exercise in older individuals over 65 with some clinical conditions as well.
“They then had very large increases in strength anywhere from 30 to 50 percent increase in strength and a 10 percent increase in muscle mass… in only six weeks.
“That’s a substantial increase far, far greater than we would expect from normal exercise.”
From flexibility to muscle strength, eccentric exercise is “highly effective” for your body.
“Somehow the part of exercise that feels easiest actually has a greater beneficial impact on everything, from resting heart rate to muscle growth,” noted Dr Mosley.
In case you’re not sure, the BBC podcaster explained how to do it. He said: “Eccentric exercise is kind of like a secret workout that’s been hidden in your exercise regime all along.
“It’s the flip side of a lot of movements you’re already doing.
“You can do eccentric exercises in all sorts of ways from yoga to using weights, it is all about ensuring the active muscle is lengthening when under resistance.”
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