Staying active, fit and agile as we age is an important factor in maintaining our vitality and also preserving our longevity. Exercising regularly helps to lower our risk of developing most major chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia.
New research presented this month at EuroPrevent 2019 (a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology) found that people with more muscle power tend to live longer than people with less. The presenters noted that this is the first study to investigate the potential connection of muscle power to longevity as past research has focused on muscle strength.
Muscle power is a measure of how quickly a person can do a certain amount of work, such as lifting a 50 pound weight one meter off of the floor. In contrast to power, strength can be seen as simply the amount of weight which can be lifted, with no consideration for the amount of time it takes to lift it.
The authors of this study noted that after age 40 muscle power gradually decreases but those that have more muscle power seem to live significantly longer.
“We now show that power is strongly related to all-cause mortality. But the good news is that you only need to be above the median for your sex, [male or female], to have the best survival, with no further benefit in becoming even more powerful,” said Professor Claudio Gil Araújo out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
This study followed 3,878 non-athlete participants aged 41 to 85 years who underwent maximal muscle power testing with an upright row exercise between 2001 and 2016.
The results of this study showed that participants with power levels above average for their sex had a greater chance of surviving through to the end of the study. The 25 per cent of participants with the lowest strength had a 10 to 13 times higher death rate than the average in the study. The second weakest 25 per cent of participants also had an increased risk of dying at four to five times of the median (average).
These results are quite striking and give further credence to the notion that we should be exercising throughout our lives to maintain optimal health. While aerobic exercises are an excellent means of maintaining fitness, the benefits of performing exercises to improve muscle power should not be overlooked. These exercises include squats, push-ups, rows, biceps curls and leg curls to name a few.
Do you have questions about maintaining your health and living a long and healthy life? Ask your naturopathic doctor.
Dr. Colin MacLeod ND is a naturopathic doctor practicing full-time in Upper Tantallon at MacLeod Naturopathic. His practice focuses on pain management and maintaining health through physical activity and diet. Visit him online at drcolinmacleod.com.