Why Lifting Weights Is Just as Critical to a Long Life as Cardio

Do you even lift, bro? Because these doctors think you should.

November 4, 2016 9:00 am

It’s no secret that a lifelong commitment to cardio workouts will help you live longer.

Knowing that, many men steer clear of the weightroom, perhaps because they perceive lifting it to be more of a vanity pursuit: folks who pump iron just want to look buff.

But a new study done by the Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Columbia University suggests you should rethink that — because strength training, too, can lead to longevity.

The study shows that “older adults who met twice-weekly strength-training guidelines had lower odds of dying.” Not only did they see a reduction in cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabeties and some cancers, but also in osteoporosis and lower back pain. But the most important number? The lifters had a 46 percent lower chance of early death.

The study is a pretty reliable one: the researchers studied 30,000 people over the age of 65 for 15 years. Of that group, only nine percent of the adults surveyed said that they strength trained twice a week. The respondents came from all 50 states, and if there’s one similarity, it’s that the strength trainers tended to be better educated, which runs counter to the image most of us have of dumb-dumbs lifting dumbbells.

Another factor in longevity — which we’re awaiting an answer from the researchers on — is that strength training also leads to fewer injuries. Fewer injuries, particularly at an older age, means fewer visits to the hospital for operations that could potentially lead to life-threatening complications (infections, blood clots, etc.), not to mention stress. And stress is a killer.

Regardless, it’s pretty clear that you should start incorporating strength into your routine if you haven’t already.

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