The results of a 15-year longitudinal study are in: not only is strength training good for you, when people over 65 engage in this activity, they live longer, period. Researchers found that pumping iron decreased the chances of death from all causes by almost half.
“The secret to a longer and healthier life may not be available in pill form, but it may look like a barbell,” said Dr. Jennifer Kraschnewski, the head of the study and assistant professor of medicine and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. “Strength training can substantially decrease mortality risk, and more importantly, some of our other work demonstrates the impact of strength training on improving functional limitations [in older people],” she added.
The study followed over 30,000 people over 65 years of age for 15 years. Information on the group was collected from 1997 until 2001 through the US National Health Interview Survey. The study did not prove cause and effect, but it did find that those engaged in strength training twice a week were 46 percent less at risk for death from any cause. The risk of death from heart disease declined by 41 percent, and from cancer by 19 percent.
“Older adults have the ability to achieve strength similar to those decades younger by engaging in simple strength training routines,” Kraschnewski said.