A new study conducted by the researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that, for men, the effect of having low muscle strength in youth was similar to the well-known risk factors for early death. Those risk factors include being overweight or having high blood pressure.
The study included more than 1 million Swedish males aged 16 to 19 who were followed for 24 years. The participants underwent strength tests at the start of the study. Early death was defined as death before age 55.
Adults who had high muscular strength as teens had a 20 percent to 35 percent lower risk of early death from any cause and also from cardiovascular diseases, independently of blood pressure or body-mass index, the results indicated.
In addition, those who were the strongest as teens also had a 20 percent to 30 percent lower risk of early death from suicide and were 65 percent less likely to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder, such as schizophrenia or mood disorders.
These findings point to the need for young people, particularly those with very low strength, to get regular exercise to improve their muscular fitness, the study authors said in the report, published in the Nov. 20 online edition of the BMJ.
Keep in mind that the study found an association between low muscle strength during teen years and early death in men; it did not prove cause-and-effect.