Hitting the gym and lifting weights when you’re younger may have long-term benefits according to a study from Sweden that found that muscular teenagers may have a greater chance of longevity.
The BBC summarizes the findings of study of potential connection between muscle mass in teenagers who pump iron and life expectancy:
“Swedish experts who tracked more than a million teenage boys for 24 years found those with low muscle strength – weaker leg and arm muscles and a limp grip – were at increased risk of early death …
“The teenagers who scored above average on muscular strength at the start of the study had a 20-35% lower risk of early death from any cause and also from cardiovascular diseases. They also had a 20-30% lower risk of early death from suicide and were up to 65% less likely to have any psychiatric diagnosis, such as schizophrenia or depression.”
In compiling this data, researchers screened about 1.1. million Swedish males in the 16-19 age group when they reported for their mandatory military physical and then followed them for 24 years. Baseline examinations included knee extension strength, handgrip strength, and elbow flexion strength. Premature death was defined as passing away before the age of 55, and two percent of the subjects apparently died during the 24-year period. “Higher levels of muscular strength were significantly associated with lower risk of all cause mortality, the study published in the BMJ journal asserts.
The study concludes that “low muscular strength in adolescents is an emerging risk factor for major causes of death in young adulthood, such as suicide and cardiovascular diseases.” The researchers also maintain that low muscle mass has similarity to risk factors such as obesity or high blood pressure.
The BBC cautions, however, that “experts stress the findings do not mean muscle building makes you live longer.”