Muscle boys, body image and longevity

Teenage boys feeling under pressure to have a ripped and pumped up physique might be the reason that more of them are working out to gain extra muscle. A recent study highlights what could be worrying signs of this teenage focus. Meanwhile, a different study suggests that muscle strength in teenage boys could be a predictor for general fitness which links to a longer life. The message is that keeping fit as a teen is positive while trying to attain a certain body type at all costs is not.

Many articles in the media focus on the fact that kids are getting fatter and less active. Parents are being urged to get their kids up and moving. However, many youngsters are approaching health and fitness in a negative way because of problems with body image based on what they should or should not look like.

According to a  recent study four out of ten males in middle and high school in one US city stated they were exercising to increase their muscle mass. The number using protein supplements was 38% and 1 in 20 said they have used steroids at some point. The effect of using these muscle-building boosters is not really known but for parents these results could mark a worrying trend.

A study that lasted more than two decades and involved more than 1 million teenage boys has also been recently published and the results are definitely interesting. The British Medical Journal published study states that teenagers who had an above average muscle strength when the study began had a 20-35% lower risk of early death.

Experts studied leg and arm muscles, as well as grip, and found that it wasn't just longevity that was affected but also psychiatric wellbeing too. Participants with above average muscle strength had a startling 65% reduced risk of having a mental health diagnosis. This does seem to suggest that a healthy body does indeed produce a healthy mind.

Those behind the study point out that results do not indicate that building muscles makes you live longer.  It is thought that those youngsters who have an more muscle strength have generally higher levels of fitness and that this is what affects health as they grow older. It certainly seems that keeping fit as a teen is vital. They study looked at 16 to 19 year olds and found that those who fared the worst in terms of muscle strength were more likely to die before their late-50s.

The message from these studies seems to be loud and clear. While focusing on body image and trying to achieve a perception of perfection could have negative results, there is startling evidence that youngsters who keep fit really benefit as they get older. The key for parents is to make sure that they inspire their kids to be active but that they are getting the right message about what is healthy and how they can keep fit. If you need help in sending out the right information to your children then let us help you get them on the right fitness track.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

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