If you’re a cardio junkie, it may be tempting to skip the weight room when you work out. Hey, your legs are sore after you hit up your go-to spin class. That totally counts as strength training, right? Eh, not so much. And according to new research, it might be time to stop skimping on a legit leg day, because anaerobic exercise (a.k.a. strength training) may be the secret to longevity.
In the study published in the journal Preventative Medicine, researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine found a link between strength training and a longer life. While, yes, cardio has been shown to lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, there’s much less research on how strength training (as opposed to cardio or overall activity levels) impacts your health and longevity.
To examine how strength training would impact mortality, the researchers looked at data from the National Health Interview Survey collected between 1997-2001 and linked it to death certificate data of more than 30,000 people aged 65 of older through 2011. Only 9 percent of people reported strength training at least twice a week (come on people!). But those lifters had a 46 percent less risk of early death than people who didn’t. They were also 41 percent less likely to have a cardiac-related death and 19 percent less likely to die from cancer. And the results held even after adjusting for other lifestyle factors like smoking or alcohol use.
So what does this mean for your next sweat session? Don’t just hit the treadmill and then hit the locker room. Step up your strength training with one of our badass strength-building workouts instead.