How Older Adults Can Use Regular Strength Training To Extend Their Lives

For years, people have been encouraged to perform regular aerobic activity in an effort to boost their health and longevity. However, strength training has also been found to provide a bevy of long-lasting health benefits, including living longer.

According to a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open, simply doing strength training can help seniors extend their life. The study shows that people over 65 years of age who performed strength training two to six times a week lived longer than those who did it less than two times a week.

When combined with aerobic activity, longevity is further increased. The study's author Dr. Bryant Webber, an epidemiologist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN, "We found that each type of physical activity was independently associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality in older adults."

He continued, "Those who met the muscle-strengthening guideline only (versus neither guideline) had (a) 10% lower risk of mortality, those who met the aerobic guideline only had 24% lower risk of mortality, and those who met both guidelines had 30% lower risk."

Getting in regular strength training is easier than you may think

You don't have to spend your life at the gym to gain health benefits. The CDC's current guidelines recommend that adults 65 and older do strength training two days a week and participate in aerobic activity for 150 minutes weekly. Ideally, the strength training should target all major muscle groups, such as the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.

According to WebMD, you need only do one to two sessions of strength training a week for 30 to 60 minutes in total to gain maximum benefit. If you can't get to the gym, you can use resistance bands or weights at home. Activities such as digging in a garden or doing sit-ups or push-ups in which you use resistance to strengthen muscles can also be effective (via CNN).

Incidentally, if you're under 65, the same guidelines are recommended for adults between 18 and 64, so there's no better time than now to start incorporating strength training into your week.