Here's How Stronger Muscles Extend Your Life

One more reason to dust off those dumbbells!

When it comes to getting buff, we tend to assume that the primary benefit of being ripped is its aesthetic appeal. But according to new research published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, those bulging biceps are doing a lot more than making you good to the ladies.

Dr. Kate Duchowny, who recently completed her doctorate in epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and her colleagues analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study, which has been a public source for research on aging since 1990. Looking at the data of a nationally representative sample of 8,326 men and women ages 65 and older, they found that people with low muscle strength had a 50 percent chance of dying earlier than their more muscular counterparts.

"Maintaining muscle strength throughout life—and especially in later life—is extremely important for longevity and aging independently," Duchowny said.

The muscle strength of participants was measured using a device called a dynamometer, which a patient squeezes in order to determine their hand grip strength. Men whose hand grip strength was less than 85 pounds and women whose hand grip strength was less than 48 pounds were considered to have weak muscle strength and made up 46 percent of the sample.

The findings have led Duchowny to conclude that grip strength measurements should become a staple of routine physicals, especially since they are so easy to use and cost-effective.

"This study further highlights the importance of integrating grip strength measurements into routine care—not just for older adults but even in midlife," Duchowny said. "Having hand grip strength be an integral part of routine care would allow for earlier interventions, which could lead to increased longevity and independence for individuals."

And if you want to save a trip to the doctor, you can buy your own dynamometer online and use it to motivate your next weight-lifting session.

For more top-notch advice for living smarter, for longer, check out these 100 Amazing Anti-Aging Secrets—Straight from America's Fittest CEO!

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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