Leg Strength: The Key to Longevity No One is Talking About

Modern technology and medical research have made magnificent strides in the last decade. They have joined forces to help us live longer and even increase the quality of life as we age.

Think about all the breakthroughs in stem cell research … DNA and gene sequencing … advanced disease diagnosis and treatment … and even wearable tech to measure our day-to-day health.

I think you’ll agree that the advancements we’ve made as a society are remarkable.

But there’s one crucial factor in longevity most people don’t know about.

You won’t see it on the news or in the latest tabloids because it’s not as sexy as the "new age" discoveries above.

It wasn’t developed by science or in a lab.

It can’t be injected or taken in a pill.

The longevity factor I’m talking about is leg strength.

The strength of your legs has been found to be a key predictor of your longevity, both how long you will live and the quality of life as you age.

A study called the Health ABC (Health, Aging and Body Composition) was published in 2006. It measured how body composition changes can correlate with the risk of poor health outcomes.

And it provided a solid benchmark for future studies that show why we should build healthier lives from the ground up — literally!

Health ABC had over 2,000 participants, male and female, between the ages of 70 and 79 years old.

The study ran several tests over time, including consistent tests on grip strength and quadriceps strength.

Results showed that strength and mortality did not depend upon illness. Rather, illness plagued those who weren’t as strong as others in the same age group.

Both strength tests proved that the weaker you were in strength, the closer you were to mortality (Newman, etc. 2006).

Another study was done on 1,280 men and women who were age 55 and older. The purpose of this study was to see if muscle mass, leg strength and fat mass were associated with physical function (Bouchard, Heroux & Janssen, 2011).

They determined that leg strength was the most important factor when it came to physical function and mortality.

Although, notice that this link is purely between strength and longevity — regardless of the amount of muscle you have.

A low and healthy body fat percentage is much more important to overall health.

Meaning … you don’t need to look like a bodybuilder to benefit from the effects of leg strength!

Intuitively, this makes perfect sense. After all, someone with more leg strength likely exercises more often and is more mobile than someone with weaker leg strength.

The benefits of exercise on overall health and longevity are endless. And new studies are showing how detrimental a sedentary lifestyle can be to your health. It can even be as bad as smoking!

But the benefits of leg strength go beyond just physical.

One study followed 324 healthy female twins, aged 43 to 73, for a decade. Cognitive function such as learning and memory was tested at the outset and at the conclusion of the study. Interestingly, as reported by MedicineNet.com:

"The researchers found that leg strength was a better predictor of brain health than any other lifestyle factor looked at in the study."

Generally, the twin with more leg strength at the start of the study maintained her mental abilities better … and had fewer age-related brain changes … than the twin with weaker legs.

"It’s compelling to see such differences in cognition [thinking] and brain structure in identical twins, who had different leg power 10 years before," [lead author Claire] Steves said.

"It suggests that simple lifestyle changes to boost our physical activity may help to keep us both mentally and physically healthy."

Incredible!

First and foremost, making it a priority to live an active lifestyle should help you build stronger legs, make you more mobile and flexible, and even help you move better as you age.

If you want to improve your leg strength, start by hitting the gym. Compound exercises like squats and deadlifts are the best exercises to build leg strength and overall body strength.

A proper training program will always include these type of lifts or variations of them.

Not ready to hit the gym just yet? Then you might want to start walking more and building up to power-walking first.

As we age, we can lose muscle. So it’s important to do what we can to prevent injury.

You can also do partial squats, leg lifts and even sit with your legs uncrossed to boost the circulation in your lower extremities.

Like many people say: "healthy body, healthy mind." To best boost the connection, consider starting with your legs!

That’s all for today!

Happy and Healthy Investing,

Brad Hoppmann

Your thoughts on “Leg Strength: The Key to Longevity No One is Talking About”

  1. Tai Chi Practise is the Best Overall for leg strength for people up in there years!!
    I know because i am one of them.(72)

  2. Great article. Many people do not realize walking does not build leg strength. The quads and calves must be targeted. My mother walked all the time but did nothing to build these muscles specifically. She now uses a walker.

  3. The stock market is doing great, therefore the country’s finances must be in great condition. Strong legs do not always result in a long life noting that many weight lifters with powerful legs do themselves damage on a very consistent basis. Good health and therefore an extended life is about delivering a wide range of nutrients to all parts of the body all the time which requires a consistent exercise regimen. It also means that the list of nutrients should be complete. People who exercise on a regular basis tend to have a better diet than those who don’t care for themselves. It is s easy as that…and actually knowing which nutrients are on the list.

  4. Dr Mike Roizen of the Dr Oz tv show said that one of the 8 things you must do every day to increase longevity is to jump straight up as high as you can 40 times every day. Ha!!! I have been doing this every day for YEARS. I always pretend that I am trying to outjump LeBron James or Michael Jordan to get that rebound. Some days I keep doing it until I collapse from exhaustion. And I am 79 years old. And I have not had so much as a cold for more years than I can remember. I do this every morning upon arising. What a great way to start the day! Sometimes I use a Power Walker, but jumping straight up is better. All that jumping increases blood flow to the brain, so that by the time I have finished I am almost in a state of ecstasy. I also love to climb stairs, wearing a small backpack with 10–15 lbs. of weights, taking two steps at a time, knocking off 4–6 flights of stairs. A book I have found to be very helpful is COMBAT CONDITIONING by Matt Furey.

  5. Brad,
    Thanks for the interesting article about Leg Strength. Interesting correlation between the legs and mind. Makes good sense. I am a walker, gardener and care for my husband.
    JK

  6. Often overlooked for much more expensive equipment, REBOUNDING (on a mini-trampoline) is possibly the best exercise there is for legs and overall conditioning, especially with small weights (up to 3 lbs max). Anyone can do it gradually at any time (e.g. while watching the idiot box). Even just gentle bouncing execises every cell in your body, including the lymphatic system. And it really improves your balance better than any other equipment. Just 10 minutes a day can make a big difference.

  7. cycling, even stationary cycling, is possibly the best single exercise for health….it gives one much more quad strength than running or walking, it burns calories, provides the benefits of aerobic exercise, and does all of this while being kind to joints.

  8. I talk to my acupuncture patients all the time about lifting the breastbone, which raises the rib cage and aligns the spine, in order to utilize the quads and hamstrings
    instead of the lower back. This also engages the core. In lieu of squats and deadlifts, Tai Chi will accomplish this. There are multiple other benefits to Tai Chi which contribute to longevity, brain function, flexibility and balance. I whole heartedly agree with the premise of this article. Thank you!

  9. Brad,

    Glad to see you “branching” out from investing/trading into something that may benefit all of us……..physical fitness starting from the ground up. Been a workout “maven” for 50 plus years through many injuries from over training and competition. But it has been the ONE staple that I can always count on to improve every day functionality and cognitive thinking.

    Thx for the reminder

    Jeff

  10. good food for thought it is said ,quote, walking legs worth millions, long journey start with a single step

  11. Great article! I would also imagine that the level of aerobic activity has a, direct link with longevity. Of course, most aerobics will boost leg strength.

Comments are closed.

Brad Hoppmann originally grew up in Florida, but has lived in Baltimore, Charlotte and New York as well throughout his career. Always an athlete, he played varsity football and water polo at the University of Florida and received All-SEC/SCC honors.