Muscular Strength Associated with Mortality and Disease Prevention
Do you work out like your life depends on it?
It’s widely accepted that human beings benefit from being physically fit—people look better, feel better, and can even have elevated mood levels from all those endorphins that are produced during a challenging workout.
And now, a growing body of evidence suggests that muscular strength can also help predict or even prevent certain diseases.
Strong muscles are important for overall health, balance, and maintaining your independence as you age. But, the decline of muscle mass or Sarcopenia starts in your thirties and can progress throughout your lifetime.
Understanding the Role of Muscular Strength
A recent review in the European Journal of Internal Medicine culled hundreds of articles, reviews, and studies seeking to understand the role that muscular strength might also have in predicting mortality, health, and disease.
After selecting for certain criteria, researchers chose twenty-three papers looking for the “association between muscular strength and mortality risk.”
What they found is that muscular strength is both a “strong” predictor of mortality or death, and “has an independent role” in the prevention of certain chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Conversely, weak muscles were “inversely and independently associated” with all causes of death. In particular, “poor handgrip strength” has been linked to premature death in older populations in this and other studies.
Public Health Implications
Researchers found that the higher mortality risks associated with weak muscles were similar to risk factors for obesity, hypertension and smoking. Smoking is currently the leading cause of preventable death according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Developing Muscular Strength is a Choice
Therefore, like choosing not to smoke cigarettes or wearing sunscreen when you are at the beach, the researchers found that muscular strength is a “modifiable risk factor”—as in: it’s something that can be changed with a behavior modification. And that can have huge implications for public health.
Stronger muscles can be developed at any age. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends weight or resistance training two or more times each week. Before starting or adding to your workout regimen, speak to your doctor or other health care professional. And get moving today!