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Can exercise lead to a longer life?

By The Health News Team | January 17, 2023
Woman using weights to exercise in the gym

For many adults, growing older involves an inevitable loss of strength, energy and vigor. It can also lead to a lower quality of life. However, according to Olga Hays, an American Council on Exercise-certified wellness promotion specialist with Sharp HealthCare, it does not need to be that way.

“Studies have shown that strength training — often called weight training or resistance training — is one of the best ways to fight the weakness and frailty that can come with age, and to live a potentially longer, healthier life,” Hays says.

Strength training has been linked to a decreased risk of death due to its many life-prolonging benefits. Strength training can help:

  • Decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes

  • Preserve bone density

  • Improve balance, coordination and mobility

  • Reduce the risk of falls

  • Keep a healthy body weight

  • Maintain independence in performing daily activities and as a result, a high quality of life

A combination of cardio and strength training

Most people have a natural preference when it comes to exercise. Some enjoy regular aerobic fitness — activities that make heart rate go up — such as running, walking or biking. And some prefer lifting weights and doing strength-improving activities. But when it comes to which type of exercise offers the most “bang for your buck” in terms of increasing longevity, cardio and strength don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Both types of exercises should be included in a well-rounded workout program to live a long, healthy life. This is because cardio is beneficial for heart health and disease prevention, while strength training slows muscle loss; maintains healthy tissues and stable bones; and reduces injuries. All of which are important for keeping healthy and increasing longevity.

Full body strength training

A strength training routine should incorporate a variety of exercises for all your major muscle groups: chest, back, arms, abs, legs and shoulders. A great way to ease into strength training is to learn a few fundamental moves that work these major body parts. These key moves can later become a foundation for many other strength training exercises.

“Healthy aging is not just about living longer,” says Hays. “It’s about maintaining your independence, mobility and quality of life.”

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