Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Study Spotlight: Can Lifting Weights Extend your Life?

By: Andrew Jagim

Normally I'm not a big fan of correlational studies or at least extrapolating an association into a "cause and effect" type of conclusion however they still pose some interesting questions.

Recently an article highlighted the potential benefits of strength training into older adulthood and how it may reduce one's overall risk of dying.

What did they do?
Researchers compiled data from a National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) over a 15 yr period and determined the association between adherence to recommendations on strength training (>2x per week) and all-cause mortality; accounting for differences in demographics, prior medical history and other behaviors.

What did they find?
What the researchers found was actually pretty astonishing, on multiple levels.  First of all, only 9.6% of the individuals surveyed exceeded the recommendations for strength training. That's 2,895 people out of the 30, 162 surveyed. Not good; as maintaining strength and mobility is an essential component of maintaining autonomy throughout the aging process.

Also, not only does regular participation help to maintain autonomy it also apparently helps to reduce your overall risk of dying as the researchers found that the older adults who did actually abide by the recommendations for strength training had 46% lower odds of all-cause mortality than their non-lifting counterparts.

Take Home Message:
Again, not that correlation always means causation, the reported association between strength training and a reduced risk of dying in the current study is pretty hard to ignore. The exact mechanism behind this association can only be speculated but it's likely attributable to a maintainance of lean muscle mass and subsequent strength throughout older adulthood that helps to maintain metabolic activity, mobility, function and an overall improved quality of life.  So in conclusion, make sure to participate in regular strength training as you age, it could save your life and improve the quality of life during your remaining years.

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