The key to a long life may not be in a secret routine or genetics, but could instead be hiding in the gym. As it turns out, lifting heavy weights regularly as a young adult and as you get older can reduce your risk of a premature death. If you’re already lifting weights, it may be in your best interest to continue for as long as possible. If you’re not lifting weights, you might want to start.
In a study done by the Penn State College of Medicine, researchers tracked people who were aged 65 or older for fifteen years to analyze how their exercise habits affected their general health and lifespan. During this study, almost one-third of the participants passed away. Here is where it gets exciting. Ten percent of the participants regularly weight trained, and of those few participants, 46 percent of them were less likely to die than the other ninety percent who didn’t do any training at all.
It’s natural to assume that people who work out are just in better shape in general than the other participants at the beginning of the study, but even after adjusting for chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, BMI, and other lifestyle activities like smoking and drinking, weight lifting still gave participants a reduced risk of death rate by 19 percent.
In addition to helping you live longer, weightlifting and exercise, in general, can greatly improve your quality of life as you get older. Weight lifting has been linked to increasing bone density, improve balance, increase stamina, and above all strengthen the muscles that weaken over time. With all of these factors improved, the chances of a fall or accident being forever life altering or a chance at causing disability drastically go down.
Additional benefits of weightlifting include an ease of finishing simple tasks. As we age, it may get harder to do the things we’ve loved for years or to even climb a flight of stairs. Regular resistance training allows the body to handle these tasks without causing it to become an event. Strength training will also stop your body from accumulating fat, as lean muscle burns more calories and prevents fat build up. Connective tissue and tendons will also benefit from the extra training, eventually reducing the risk of injury and allowing more flexibility. After your muscles are strengthened, the constant pain involved with aging should go away or decrease greatly with time.