Live longer with more muscles

By Shayna Brouker • Published: June 23rd, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Here’s one more reason to get to muscle beach this summer — no matter your age muscles make you live longer. A new study of more than 3,000 adults found that the more muscle elderly adults have, the lower their risk of death. The U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey looked at the muscle index of older adults, which means their muscle mass relative to height. Those with the highest levels of muscle mass were much less likely to have died than those with lower levels of muscle mass.

The results, published in the American Journal of Medicine, point to the growing theory that body composition is a better indicator of health than body mass index. Muscle mass tends to decrease with age, but flexing those muscles just a few times a week can pay dividends not only now but down the road.

Need some more motivation to hit the weights? Strong muscles can protect joints, decrease body fat, improve posture and balance, lower blood sugar, heighten metabolism and boost energy. Not to mention the very positive side effects include a more toned physique and confidence.

And there’s something for everyone. Weight training often brings to mind sculpted, sweaty meathead jocks with bulging biceps pumping iron in front of the mirror — which is certainly an option — but so are strength bands, body weight resistance training, and even some aerobic activities like rowing and cycling.

Don’t discount power yoga, either, which incorporates weights with traditional yoga poses. Even heavy housework like pulling weeds, vacuuming and scrubbing floors on a regular basis can be considered weight training — and an efficient way to exercise, too.

So don’t let your age be an excuse. It’s never too late to add some muscle and prolong your life.