Not lifting weights may be as bad as smoking

Not lifting weights may be as bad as smoking

Aging is often thought of something completely out of our control. Not true.

We all have two distinctive ages: chronological and biological. Chronological age is the one we’re most familiar with. It’s the actual time in years, months and days since you were born. Biological age is the age your body acts or functions like.

“Chronologically, we all age at the same rate,” says Dr. Stephanie Maves, family medicine physician at Aurora Health Care in Port Washington, Wis. “But biologically, that’s where everyone ages at a different pace depending on lifestyle choices. For example, if you’re a nonsmoker, eat right and exercise, you may have a body or the abilities of a person 15 years younger. On the other hand, if you smoke, eat a lot of high-fat fast food and are physically inactive, your biological age may be 15 years older than your chronological age.”

Smoking, an unhealthy diet and other lifestyle choices can contribute to your risk for disease and early death. Doctors often use these factors to determine your biological age.

And now, researchers have found that grip strength may be another key factor to determine biological age.

In a recent research study, scientists reported age acceleration may be tied to lower grip strength and loss of strength over time. Based on biomarkers that determine biological age, the researchers gathered data from more than 1,250 middle-aged and older men and women for over eight to 10 years. They found that the weaker the participants’ grip, the older their biological age.

While other studies indicate grip strength can be a predictor of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, this study’s results are some of the first evidence of a biological link between muscle strength and age acceleration.

“This study – as well as numerous others – provides further data that building and maintaining muscle strength is important for good health and longevity,” Dr. Maves says. “No matter your chronological age, I encourage including weightlifting into your routine to help protect against age-related and other diseases. Plus, the more steps per day, the better; 10,000 steps is a great goal. Start by seeing how many steps you’re doing now, and try to increase by 1,000 steps per day every week or so until you reach 10,000. But always check with your doctor first before starting any new exercise regimen.”

Here are four tips for lifting weights.

Looking for a doctor? Find one that’s right for you in Illinois or Wisconsin, or do a virtual visit from home.

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About the Author

Mary Arens
Mary Arens

Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.