There are obvious reasons why you should regularly strength train to build muscle: you’ll boost your metabolism and burn more calories, you’ll look more toned and weight training helps to strengthen your bones and fight osteoporosis.
But there are some other, lesser-known reasons why it’s so beneficial. In a study of 44,000 men, researchers at Harvard University found that those who lifted weights for 30 minutes or more a week reduced their risk of heart disease by 23 percent. And, most recently, a study by Swedish researchers has found that teenage boys (age 16 to 19) with low muscle strength (weaker leg and arm muscles and a limp grip) had an increased risk of early death.
After tracking more than a million teenage boys for 24 years, the researchers found that those teens who scored above average on muscle strength at the start of the study had a 20-35 percent lower risk of early death, reports BBC News. Teens with the lowest level of muscle strength had the highest risk of death before reaching their mid-50s.
So what does this mean? Should we increase the number of times we’re lifting weights per week? Not necessarily; the study’s findings don’t mean that building muscle will make you live longer, say researchers, but that they believe muscle strength reflects overall fitness.
Is strength training part of your fitness regimen? How often do you focus on building muscle?