Strong muscles lower mortality in people in their twenties and thirties
On this website you will find a small dozen posts about the relation between strong and developed muscles on the one hand, and longevity on the other. [Links to those posts at the bottom of this page.] These articles may have given the impression that the positive effects of strong muscles become visible only later in life, but that is not the case. Strong muscles also reduce the risk of death in people in their twenties and thirties. This is evident from a Swedish epidemiological study, which appeared in 2012 in BMJ.
The researchers measured the muscular strength of more than a million Swedish boys aged 16-19 years. They followed them for 24 years.
During the follow-up period, 2 percent of the boys died. The major cause of death was suicide (22 percent), followed by cancer (15 percent) and cardiovascular disease (8 percent).
Overweight/obesity and high blood pressure increased the chance of premature death; so did having little muscle strength.
The effect of muscle strength was of the same order as overweight and high blood pressure, and it was also independent. That means that explanations like "overweight boys have weaker muscles, so the increased risk in boys with little muscle strength is actually caused by obesity" don't hold water.
It did not matter whether the researchers determined the muscle strength with a gripper that the boys had to squeeze, or on the basis of the strength the boys could develop on a leg extension machine.
"Low muscular strength in adolescents is an emerging risk factor for major causes of death in young adulthood, such as suicide and cardiovascular diseases", the researchers wrote. "The effect size observed for all cause mortality was equivalent to that for well established risk factors such as elevated body mass index or blood pressure."
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