Forget aerobics, pumping iron could help you live longer.
For 15 years, researchers followed over 30,000 people aged 65 and over to see how their fitness habits affected their life spans.
They found that those who lifted weights twice per week cut their risk of dying earlier by 46%, compared to those who strength trained less or not at all.
Those who engaged in strength training were also less likely to die of heart disease or cancer.
Despite the health benefits, only 9.6% of the study’s participants regularly performed strength training activities like lifting weights, stair climbing or using resistance bands .
The health effects were the same for those who strength trained regardless of differences in health concerns like diabetes, drinking alcohol and smoking.
Strength training is beneficial to health as it increases bone density and strengthens muscles.
This can improve balance and stability, both of which are major factors in falls and fractures, which can be disabling to many older people.
For those who want to try strength training out at home, Shannon Jewell, club manager at Alex Fitness, recommends focusing on combining several movements linking your lower and upper body.
“Combining compound (multiple muscle) movements performed in a controlled manner will task your central nervous system, resulting in improved strength and balance gains,” she explained.
“Both areas are key for anyone over the age of 65.”
Before exercising, it’s really important to warm up so you don’t hurt yourself.
Tom Godwin, course tutor and developer at Train Fitness, says: “This will help to get you ready for the workout ahead and also reduce the risk of injury.
“It should involve an element that will help to increase the heart rate (pulse raiser) and some form of stretching (mobility).”