Exercise high

Yes, I realize that I talk about exercise all the time.

It’s not as if I look like Ahh-nuld. But working out has transformed my life in so many positive ways that I like to spread the message as often as I can.

So indulge me while I share yet another new study that shows it’s never too early to get in shape.

This one looked at more than one million Swedish adolescent boys. And it showed that low muscle strength was linked to premature mortality–that is, death before the age of 55.

Researchers assessed subjects’ muscle strength with knee extension and handgrip tests. Then they looked for potential links to all-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality–including death from heart disease, cancer, and suicide.

As it turns out, teens who scored high on strength tests were 20 to 35 percent less likely to die from heart disease or any cause than their weaker peers. (And that’s independent of BMI or blood pressure status.)

What’s more, the stronger teens were 20 to 30 percent less likely to die from suicide. (By far the most common cause of death overall.) They were also 15 to 65 percent less likely to receive any kind of psychiatric diagnosis.

This outcome isn’t all that surprising when you consider that poor muscle strength is a strong mortality risk factor in adults, too. Aerobic fitness is also linked to better mental health among the older set.

And of course, it’s already well established that high blood pressure and obesity during the teen years are associated with premature mortality. But this latest discovery is startling, all the same.

Maybe the explanation is simple–for instance, physically fit adolescents might be more likely to have other healthy habits. But whatever the reason, it’s hard to argue with data from one million kids.

So if you’re not already encouraging your children to get off their butts and away from the computer or television, this study should be a real wake up call.

Exercise helps you to live a healthier–and apparently happier–life. Give that gift to your kids as well as yourself.

In fact, you might want to consider signing up for a family yoga class…

Low Muscle Strength May Up Mortality Risk in Young Adults. Medscape. Nov 26, 2012.
“Muscular strength in male adolescents and premature death: cohort study of one million participants” BMJ 2012;345:e7279