By Marc Lobliner
For years, I have said that being big and muscular is just as taxing on your heart as being fat. Either way, your heart must pump blood and circulate to more mass, meaning more strain on the heart.
I was wrong.
Well, sort of wrong.
More muscle mass, up to a point, decreases your risk of death from all causes, with a direct correlation to more muscle mass versus less muscle mass.
But this is for natural athletes.
When building muscle beyond your natural potential, using steroids, not only do you have the added body mass, but you also have steroids, and data suggests that steroids done in excess (beyond testosterone replacement therapy or TRT) is terrible for your heart.
This study, while done on only 12 people, helped clarify the age-old debate if steroids negatively affect the heart.1 According to this study, “the heart doesn’t squeeze as well” when subjected to long-term steroid abuse.
The study participants averaged nine years of steroid use at an average of 675 milligrams of testosterone or testosterone-like substances weekly. That is a HUGE dose, with TRT generally being administered at 100-250 milligrams per week. The steroid users’ hearts also had more stiffness, and they didn’t relax between beats. Thus, the main pumping chamber of the heart didn’t fill as completely with oxygenated blood before the next contraction.
The bottom line is that steroids are bad.
But is muscle good? Let’s see what the science says.
In this study, Middle aged muscle mass linked to future heart disease risk2, researchers analyzed 2,220 people over 10 years.
They found the following:
“During the 10-year monitoring period, 272 (just under 27 percent) fatal and non-fatal cases of cardiovascular disease, including stroke and minor stroke, arose among the 1,019 middle-aged participants.
Men were around four times as likely to develop cardiovascular disease as women, after accounting for potentially influential factors. And muscle mass volume was associated with cardiovascular disease risk.
The fewest cases occurred in the third of people with the highest muscle volume compared with those in the lowest range at the start of the monitoring period. Those with the highest muscle tissue volume were 81 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, for example.
The prevalence of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity – all risk factors for cardiovascular disease – were all lower among those with the highest muscle volume.”
We won’t beat this dead horse, but being fat will kill you. The life expectancy of an obese person is decreased by 5 to 20 years.4 Nuff said, don’t be fat.
The take-home message is that muscle is good, steroid abuse is bad, and more muscle might help you live a longer life.
And even if more muscle is net neutral on a longer life, being strong and lean will help you have a better quality of life and stay mobile well into your latter years. It’s not always how long you live, but how well you live.
The take-home message here is:
• Don’t abuse steroids.
• Strength train and try to build muscle – it might add years to your life!
• Don’t be fat.
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Get lifting and get healthy!