Brain or Brawn?

I grew up in what could easily be mistaken for a racist society. We were segregated into brain or brawn; those extraordinarily intelligent or born with innate strength. Let us ignore those like me who were neither for the moment. It was commonplace to believe that you were strong and dumb or intelligent but had two legs tied together on a football field. Much like a nasty gash on the face of planet earth that made it impossible to cross the chasm, there was no way to cross over or indeed any need to. No child worth his salt would be caught in a gym when reading Homer was what made you standout. Even the gods could not save a woman who had well-developed muscles.

Yet, man or woman, strength training is ridiculously good for you. As you age, your body loses not just muscle mass but also bone tissue. This loss is accelerated in the case of women, particularly after menopause. Loss of bone mass leads to brittle bones and problems with posture. Strength training helps your bones regenerate bone tissue as an outcome of the resistance it has to exert to lift heavy objects. Naturally, this also strengthens your muscles. Also, your sensitivity to insulin improves as your muscles take up blood sugar as a source of energy. Resistance training also helps reduce the level of cytokines in your body which are a marker of inflammation. In fact, it is so good for you, I am practically begging my mother to start strength training.

Don’t be fooled by the images of men or women lifting two hundred pounds overhead. Even lifting six pounds repetitively, qualifies as strength training. Just try lifting a six-pound weight till failure (when you can’t lift anymore), and you will see what I mean. So has the debate over brain versus brawn been put to rest? I suppose, except for the uninformed who have not experienced the incredible joy of being both.