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I understand that aerobic exercise are very beneficial for one's health, but I always have doubts about muscle training. I know that bodybuilding makes you heavier, stronger and more attractive, but is it really beneficial for one's health in the long run?

Or let me put it this way: suppose that A does strength training regularly, B does aerobic exercises regularly, C does not physical training at all. Assuming all other conditions are the same, my guess is that the life expectancy of B will be much longer than A and C, while the life expectancy of A may only be slightly longer, or even not necessarily longer than C. Am I right?

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    Your question is very broad, and, the answer is not as simple as you imply. There are more factors involved. But, certainly, an active life that includes some form of fitness would certainly improve the quality of that life. – rrirower Feb 5 '15 at 2:52
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    @Alec, if I ask the question "Is eating fruits good for one's health?", one can still say that there millions of factors that affect health, there are thousands of fruits in the world; some fruit are more nutritious than others and some fruits can even be poisonous. Some yield more short-term payoff, others yield results over a longer period of time. However, I believe that it is safe to conclude that "Generally speaking, eating fruits is good for one's health". – Zuriel Feb 5 '15 at 8:59
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    @Alec, in my understanding if some exercises or diets help to improve the functions of key organs such as the heart, lung, stomach, etc., they may help to increase the life expectancy. However, if an exercise only improves the muscles, I doubt it would help to increase one's life expectancy. Just like if I take very good care of my nails or fingers or hair or beard, it probably will not be very helpful in improving my health. – Zuriel Feb 5 '15 at 9:30
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    @Alec, thus why I was asking this question in the first place. Is muscle training beneficial to key organs such as the heart, the lung, etc.? I know that aerobic exercises do. – Zuriel Feb 5 '15 at 9:37
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    Yes. For instance, larger muscles will need a larger supply of amino acids, which depends on your metabolism. Kidneys and livers. They will also need a larger supply of oxygen, ergo lungs. And then, the engine that drives all of this, the heart, is depended upon for transportation of all of these nutrients and oxygen. – Alec Feb 5 '15 at 9:48
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I know that bodybuilding makes you heavier, stronger and more attractive, but is it really beneficial for one's health in the long run?

Bodybuilding is not strength training.

Bodybuilding is a very specific practice to improve one's looks. Strength training, by contrast, is training to improve the capabilities of one's body. Strength training is the broader category, but the two should not be interchanged freely in a discussion about health benefits.

Suppose that A does strength training regularly, B does aerobic exercises regularly, C does not physical training at all. Assuming all other conditions are the same, my guess is that the life expectancy of B will be much longer than A and C, while the life expectancy of A may only be slightly longer, or even not necessarily longer than C. Am I right?

You are dramatically underestimating the health benefits of strength training.

Strength is important for long-term health, since it is a strong predictor of all-cause mortality (one, two, three, four, five) and keeps you able to do a variety of tasks yourself. Strength training improves one's ability to perform basic daily tasks, which is a major element of quality of life as one ages.

Cardiorespiratory fitness is important as well, but it owns no monopoly on health.

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It should be noted that it's very hard to make good studies showing wether exercise helps or not. All you can do is to ask old people about their history of exercise and correlate it with their health (or ask their relatives if they are dead.), but this correlation will contain unwanted components. For example; people who exercise often eat different food than people who don't, so how do you know what caused the health effect? You can include eating habits in the study as well, but you'll never exhaust the list of possible other factors that contaminates your results.

For example, maybe running in itself is harmful, but being thin is healthy. Then no running + few calories > running + normal calories > no running + normal calories > no running + high calories

  • Thanks for the answer! I suppose that this has been studied by experts; are there any conclusions? – Zuriel Feb 5 '15 at 9:10
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    What I've heard so far is that exercise is healthy unless you are at competition level (elite athletes can lose 10 years!), but just a few days ago there was a lot of news about too intensive training leading to shorter life expectancy. – Mårten Feb 5 '15 at 9:31
  • Thanks for the information! If the news are "a few days ago", it seems to me that it is quite possible that a few days later some other experts will claim the opposite conclusion. "For bodily exercise profiteth little, ..." (1 Timothy 4:8) – Zuriel Feb 5 '15 at 9:34
  • Very likely :) I think as long as you avoid steroid abuse and competition level weight lifting, it will be beneficial. – Mårten Feb 5 '15 at 9:39
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    Yup, protein is safe. I'd try to get the protein product with the shortest ingredient list though. – Mårten Feb 5 '15 at 10:00
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The advice contained on a number of health sites (eg NHS UK or Harvard Medical School) positively recommend progressive "resistance" training twice every week (in addition to cardio-vascular training) - because of the health benefits it brings.

Not only are you conditioning your muscles, but also combating loss of bone density as well as strengthening and supporting your joints with improved muscle tone.

I read the advice just over a year ago and took-up weight training aged nearly 61. I have found that it has brought all-round improvements for me personally, in terms of strength, balance, physique, mobility and even in terms of self-esteem. I also turned to a vegan diet at the same time, and undoubtedly that has helped too.

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