When we think about ways to live longer, the usual strategies are to not smoke, maintain a healthy weight, exercise, and eat right.
And of course, it helps to have good genes.
But a new study shows there is an important, but underrated, aspect of health that is crucial for a long life.
University of Michigan researchers have found that physical strength is vital to longevity. Their study shows that people with low muscle strength are 50% more likely to die prematurely.1
The lead researcher was Dr. Kate Duchowny of the U-M School of Public Health. “Maintaining muscle strength throughout life—and especially later in life—is extremely important for longevity and aging independently,” she said.2
The study shows hand-grip strength in particular is important
Dr. Duchowny and her colleagues looked at 8,326 subjects over 65.
The researchers used a dynamometer to measure their grip strength. Patients squeeze the device and it gauges strength in kilograms.
Men with a hand-grip strength under 39 kilograms were categorized with muscle weakness. For women, the weakness threshold was 22 kilograms.
The study found 46% of the subjects were “weak.” And these people were far more likely to die early.
Dr. Duchowny said hand-grip strength should be part of routine physicals. This would “allow for earlier interventions” That could lead to increased longevity.
The study was published in the Journal of Gerontology.
Additional Benefits of Strength Workouts
There are other surprising benefits to strength exercises…
- The type of muscle fiber you build when you lift weights improves metabolism and helps reduce body fat.3
- Muscle training has been shown to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.4
- Fitness experts say regular workouts build your willpower and make you mentally stronger.5
5 Best Strength Exercises for Longevity
The takeaway here is clear. Cardio exercise is important for heart health. But you shouldn’t neglect muscle strength.6
You can go to a gym if you like. But you can also do a worthwhile workout at home, no fancy equipment necessary.
If you’re a beginner, don’t overdo it. Start with as few reps as you are comfortable with. Gradually add reps over time as you gain strength.
Always consult with your doctor before you start a new exercise routine.
Here are some exercises to get you started. Taken together, they cover the major muscle groups…
- Push-ups: Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart. Keep your body straight and legs close together. Lower your body until your chest is almost touching the ground. Fully extend your arms to push yourself back up. For a less difficult version, rest your lower half on your knees rather than your toes.
- Planks: Get into the push-up position but rest your weight on your elbows. Keep your body straight. Tense your abs. Don’t let your middle sag. Hold the position for as long as you can.
- Pull-ups: You can purchase a bar to install in a doorway in your home. You can also find pull-up bars at many public parks. Grasp the bar at shoulder width and pull yourself up until your chin is just above the bar, or as high as you can manage. Then lower yourself to the starting position. You can grip the bar with palms facing either outward or inward. Each position works slightly different muscles.
- Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your weight on your heels. Lower your upper body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push from your heels to return to a standing position. Tighten your butt and stomach as you rise.
- Lunges: Stand up. Put one foot about three feet in front of the other. Both feet should point straight ahead. Lower your back knee until it’s an inch off the ground. At the same time, keep your upper body straight. Push up from your front leg and straighten your rear leg as you return to the standing position. Do reps first on one leg, then the other.
By following a consistent resistance exercise regimen, you’ll stay stronger and live longer.
Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for ways to live longer, there is something else you should know…
Recent studies show that the symptoms of aging are just like any others. They can be treated or eliminated. Go here to discover specific ways you can stop the clock – and even turn it back.