As I type this, not even 24 hours has passed since the legendary artist succumbed to cardiac arrest. In the wake of this tragedy, I can't help but think about Michael Jackson in his recent years. And, while I can't comment on the extent of his medical conditions - his prescription drug and supplement use, and the all-too-obvious psychological not-rightness - I remain shaken by his frailty.
Jackson's emaciated frame - absent of any noticeable muscle, could very well have been culpable in his early demise.
Of all the thoughts that swirled through my head upon hearing the news, I recalled a piece I read not 2 weeks ago about Jackson hiring legendary bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno to train him. Lou had this to say regarding his client:
Michael refuses to lift weights. He doesn't want to bulk up.
In a case of cruel irony, it had been reported that Jackson was terrified that gaining weight would negatively impact his chances of survival (from skin cancer).
Jackson weighed in at 126lbs, and reportedly ate only once per day.
Why Resistance Training Prolongs Life
As people age and/or become inactive they lose muscle. When this happens, their immunities weaken and because of this they are more likely to die of cancer and infectious diseases. Our inability to kill germs and ward off disease is often the result of low levels of muscle tissue. Larger muscles have readily available antibodies to fight off infections.
Again, I'm not here to speculate that if Michael only hit the iron a few times a week he would live a long and healthy life. It does however, underscore the importance of striving for strength - especially as we age.
It should also be emphasized that eating to support that muscle is also important i.e. more than once a day.
Researchers have shown that after 30, most people lose roughly 5 to 10 pounds of lean body mass during each decade of life. This is the very muscle people need to help keep them leaner (there is a corresponding drop in metabolism with less muscle), keep them out of nursing homes longer, and ultimately help them live longer.
Rest in peace, Michael.