This is a breakdown of six important research papers that studied the role that our physical strength and/or muscle mass on our health, wellbeing, and even physical attractiveness.
Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.
~ Jim Rohn
Most people know that is important to exercise, however, they may not have appreciated how important strength training and muscle mass is for fighting disease, mental health, and personal relationships.
And whilst everybody seems to take to the treadmills to go running, maybe our time is better spent in the weights room lifting dumbbells and barbells, as these papers seem to suggest.
1 Million+ People Prove Increased Physical Strength Decreases Your Risk Of Ill Health & Suicide
A Swedish study published in the BMJ concludes that low muscular strength is associated with a much higher risk of suicide and cardiovascular disease.
The health of 1 142 599 16-19 year old males was monitored for 24 years. Their strength was assessed using knee extension, hand-grip, and elbow flexion tests.
The risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) was reduced by 35% for the strongest people and up to 70% if they also had a low body fat ratio. 1 in 4 people in the UK and USA die prematurely due to CVD, which includes abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke.
The participants in the lowest tenth of muscular strength showed by far the highest risk of death due to different causes.
However, the most striking discovery is that stronger participants had a 20-30% lower risk of death from suicide and were less likely to have a psychiatric diagnosis, such as schizophrenia, mood or personality disorders, or suffer from alcohol abuse.
A Stronger Hand Grip Is Linked To Better Health And Increased Longevity
In a paper published in the British Medical Journal, half a million participants aged 40-69 years old were involved in a test to determine how their grip strength was related to illness and premature death.
Grip strength and health has been widely researched and reviewed. Data shows it is an accurate indicator of many health factors, including overall strength, bone mineral density, cognitive impairment, diabetes, and quality of life. It can also predict the potential for future disease, such as depression and cognitive impairment, as well as premature death.
This recent study found that women with a grip strength below 16 kilos (35 pounds) and men below 26 kilos (57 pounds) had the highest risk of death from illnesses such as CVD, cancer, respiratory disease, and premature death.
However, what was very interesting is they also found that for every 5kg (11-lb) decrease in grip strength thereafter, there was a 20% increase in risk of illness and death for women and a 16% increase in risk for men. For death from respiratory disease, the increase was 31% for women and 24% for men for every 5kg decrease in grip strength.
And grip strength isn’t just a good test for your health. The researchers noted that people with the lowest grip strength tended to have lower socioeconomic status, were more likely to smoke, to be obese, eat fewer fruits and vegetables, exercise less, and watch more TV.
The senior study author, Stuart Gray of the University of Glasgow, stated that “Grip strength showed a stronger association with cardiovascular disease than blood pressure and physical activity”.
So, if grip strength is intrinsically linked to your health and longevity., maybe it’s time to lift that barbell and practice some dead-lifts today.
If You Want To Keep Healthy & Live Longer, You Need To Get Stronger.
A study published in the BMJ concluded that muscular strength is directly related to risk of death. The results were the same for people of all body weight types and ages.
The study looked for associations between muscular strength and death rates, with a special focus on cancer and cardiovascular disease. It lasted almost 19 years and involved 8762 men aged between 20 and 80 years of age.
Strength was measured by combining one repetition maximum for leg press and bench press. Their cardiovascular fitness was assessed by the length of time walking on a treadmill that steadily got steeper and steeper.
Out of 503 deaths (42.5%) were attributed to the men who were in the lowest third of the strength table, 143 deaths (28.5%) were in the middle third of the strength table, and 146 (29%) were attributed to the top third of the strength table.
It seems that the stronger you are results in not only less chance of premature death, but also a lower risk of suffering from bad health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
So, if you want to improve your health and live longer, start strength training today.
Practicing Push-Ups Also Pushes Up your Life Expectancy
A 10 year study involving over 1100 participants has discovered that the more push-ups you can do the less risk you have of suffering from a cardiovascular event.
Cardiovascular events can include abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke. It’s not just one disease but a whole big list of them.
The study included 1104 firefighters aged 18 and up. They were asked to perform as many pushups as they could in 1 minute to the beat of a metronome set at 80 clicks per minute. That meant the participants could do anything between 0 and 40 pushups in the time allotted.
They then had regular health checks for 10 years. After accounting for things like age and BMI, the results show that those who could perform 10 or more push-ups had a significantly lower risk of a CVD event, and the risk reduced the more push-ups a person could do.
They also found that an increase in push-up capacity was linked to a decrease in multiple bad health markers, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose levels, and smoking status.
Women Find Strong, Muscular, Toned Men More Attractive
A research paper by the University of California supports a long held assumption by evolutionary scientists that women find men with a well built or toned muscle structure more attractive than men with other body types.
The paper draws from multiple studies and found that muscular men not only attracted more partners, but entered into sexual relations with their partners quicker. Scientists believe this is because well built muscle and strength is seen as a sign of increased offspring survival rates and reproductive success.
However, there could be another reason for women to be attracted to muscular men, and that is increased longevity. It would be an attractive feature to a potential mother that if their mate lives longer, they will be around longer to provide for them and their offspring.
So, if you want to improve your heart health, and how attractive you appear to women, start strength training and build muscle mass today.
Resistance Training Is Potent, Free Medicine That Improves Your Health
Although not a research paper per se, this comprehensive review in the American College of Sports Medicine draws from 150 research papers and provides evidence that resistance training is extremely effective in enhancing many important aspects of physical and mental health.
As the general population has become more sedentary, or in other words lazier and does less exercise, in recent decades, there has also been a sharp decrease in people’s muscle mass. Studies show that inactive adults will lose between 3% to 10% of their muscle mass every 10 years and along with it greatly increase their risk from a long list of avoidable illnesses and even premature death.
Yet, with just a little bit of strength resistance training a few times a week most people can gain a few kilos of muscle mass in a short period of time and benefit from multiple improved health markers.
Research has shown significant increases in resting metabolic rate of up to 9% after several weeks of resistance training. An increase in resting metabolic rate helps lower the body fat ratio and increase lean muscle mass.
Resistance training is recommended in the management of obesity and metabolic disorders, and may prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
A 2011 literature review by Strasser and Schobersberger concluded that, “resistance training is at least as effective as aerobic endurance training in reducing some major cardiovascular disease risk factors”.
In regards to your mental health, the benefits of resistance training include a reduction of symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, and depression; pain alleviation in people with osteoarthritis, and low back issues; and improvements in self-esteem.
And finally, and most importantly, after just 6 months of resistance training, older adults experienced gene expression reversal that resulted in mitochondrial characteristics similar to those in moderately active young adults with a mean age of 24 years. The favorable changes observed in 179 genes associated with age and exercise has led the researchers to conclude that resistance training can reverse aging factors in skeletal muscle.
So, if you want to look younger, feel healthier and live longer, start doing some strength resistance training today.