Living a longer and fuller life has always been a goal for the aging. And while time on the treadmill keeps you heart-healthy and hours on the yoga mat makes you more flexible, studies now show that lifting weights can actually help you live longer.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine conducted by Drs. Preethi Srikanthan and Arun S. Karlamangla of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, indicates that building muscle mass reduces metabolic syndrome risk factors, which include high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.
Senior obesity and Body Mass Index (BMI) were the senior mortality focus in previous studies. “Our study indicates that clinicians need to be focusing on ways to improve body composition, rather than on BMI alone, when counseling older adults on preventative health behaviors," said Dr. Srikanthan.
The average American loses ½-1 pound of muscle per year according to the Princeton Longevity Center. By age 65, many adults have lost half the muscle mass they had at 25. After age 60, it becomes increasingly difficult to rebuild lost muscle mass.
"The greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death," said study co-author Dr. Arun Karlamangla, "Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass."
Paired with brain-enhancing exercises like those provided by applications such as the recently-reviewed Lumosity, building physical strength can help seniors live longer and more productive lives, helping to stave off the frailty that we’ve come to associate with aging.
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