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Strength Training May Help Seniors Live Longer

strength training weight, training, belly fat, weights, bench, Bon Secours In MotionStrength training is often recommended for adults to improve the health of their bones and joints. Here’s another good reason to consider strength training: it may improve longevity.

A new study found that people over 65 who met strength-training guidelines at least twice a week lowered their odds of dying from any cause by 46 percent. They also were 41 percent less likely to die from heart problems and 19 percent less likely to die from cancer.

Unfortunately, the study doesn’t prove that lifting weights – a form of strength training – is responsible for these incredible health benefits, but researchers say it does suggest that this type of exercise goes beyond building muscle and strength.

Not nearly enough people incorporate strength training into their workout routine. In fact, only one in five adults meets the federal guidelines for physical activity, which call for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week to work all major muscle groups.

Weight training is renowned for its health benefits – from improving chronic conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis to helping people with obesity and low back pain, it’s really not a type of exercise reserved for competitive body builders and athletes.

Many studies have found that older adults who are physically active have a better quality of life and a lower risk of mortality, but little data have been collected on strength training. This analysis, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, is the first to demonstrate an association between strength-training and living longer.

The study is strong evidence that strength-training workouts for older adults is beneficial beyond improving muscle strength and physical function, the researchers said.

“We need to identify more ways that we can help get people engaged in strength training so we can increase the number from just under 10 percent to a much higher percentage of our older adults who are engaged in these activities,” Kraschnewski said.

Sources: Penn State news release, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

+ Learn about the fitness and weight loss program at Bon Secours In Motion. Learn how to incorporate strength training into a workout that meets your fitness level and needs.