Can Strength Training Increase a Dog’s Lifespan?

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I recently stumbled upon some research on the relationship between muscular strength in humans and their life spans. I will provide some details shortly, but the research suggests that people who are stronger will have a much lower death rate, and this longer life span, then people who are not as strong. As I read through the study, I wondered (as I often do), if the conclusions would also apply to dogs.

 

Research on Muscular Strength and Life Span

In the study “Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study” by Ruiz et al, published in 2008, researchers used data collected at the Cooper Institute to analyze if there was a relationship between muscular strength and mortality by any cause. The study data covered 8762 men aged 20-80, and the average follow up period of participants was almost 19 years. The relatively large sample size and lengthy follow up period of this study makes it particularly interesting and, in my opinion, lends more credibility to the effort.
 
SlimDoggy Strength training big dumbbell
 
The researchers combed through the data and concluded that “muscular strength is inversely and independently associated with death from all causes and cancer in men, even after adjusting for cardiorespiratory fitness and other potential confounders.”

 

Even better, at least for those who like cardio exercise, was the researcher’s conclusion that the combined effects of muscular strength and cardiorespiratory fitness had an inverse relationship with mortality. In fact, they found that the age adjusted death rate in men with high levels of both muscular strength and cardiorespiratory fitness was 60% lower than the death rate in the group of unfit men with the lowest levels of muscular strength. These results suggest that there is real benefit of incorporating both cardio and strength training in a fitness routine, not just one or the other.

 

When it came to strength training, the researchers hypothesized that one of the reasons why being stronger would increase life span was due to the fact that muscle requires more energy to maintain on a daily basis, and thus, regular strength training (and the resultant increase in muscle) would, all else equal, result in a higher daily calorie burn and lower risk of obesity and obesity related illness. The example used in the study was that 10 kgs (~22 lbs.) of lean muscle requires an incremental 100 kcals each day to maintain. This would translate to over 10 lbs. of fat per year for a person of the same body weight but without the same lean muscle mass.

 

Can Strength Training Increase a Dog’s Life Span?

Back to my original question of whether these results can apply to dogs. I obviously can’t answer this definitively but it would seem to me the answer is yes. Whether it is due to some intrinsic factor that muscle provides a body or simply due to the increased metabolism that muscle requires, I would expect that strength training would contribute to a longer life span for a dog, just as it did in the human study. This study points out that strength training, at a minimum, would result in a leaner body, and other research on dogs concludes that leaner dogs will live longer than their overweight litter mates.

 

Given the importance of strength training as a factor to an increased life span, I will be posting a series of future articles with tips and examples of how you can strength train a dog.

 

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30 Comments

  1. That’s really interesting! You would think that it would definitely help.
    Lauren Miller (ZoePhee) recently posted…Beach Throwback!My Profile

  2. that’s interesting, I will ask google for more about that topic :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog BLAST FROM THE PASTMy Profile

  3. interesting article, will be watching for the strength training exercises.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Swimming For Fun And Fitness~FitDog FridayMy Profile

  4. Would love to know more about this. Have no idea how to strength train a dog
    But if it will help my dogs live longer, be happier I will do it

  5. I would say yes, as it contributes to the overall health of humans and dogs. If nothing else, it helps a dog stay agile longer and keeps the muscles in better shape. One needs the whole picture, cardio, strength, and diet.
    Emma recently posted…3 Reasons To Run Hands Free With Your DogMy Profile

  6. I think it would. Great article!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Who Wants To Play Would You Rather? Pup Style!My Profile

  7. I’m interested to see how you design pup strength-training. In humans we build musculature best via progressive weight loading during specific exercises. Do you know if the study differentiated between body-weight fitness and weight lifting? It seems pups would be better suited to the former.

    • The humans did mostly weight training. But dogs can do body weight and there are some tools (which we will write about) that allow for added resistance.
      steve recently posted…Can Strength Training Increase a Dog’s Lifespan?My Profile

  8. I guess chasing a duck around the yard isn’t enough, huh?
    Flea recently posted…Why Your Dog Needs a DuckMy Profile

  9. Just like humans it makes sense the better physical shape you are in the better quality of life you’ll have. Interesting article.

  10. Wow… very interesting!!!
    nichole recently posted…REVIEW: Merrick Summer Seasonal RecipesMy Profile

  11. The picture of the dog bench pressing made my day. Actually it isn’t too hard to make my day.
    jan recently posted…Golden Poodle awards for JulyMy Profile

  12. Fascinating idea and looking forward to the series. You always keep us on our toes thinking about the best possible ways to keep our fur-kids healthy. Thanks. 🙂
    Monika recently posted…Sam’s got a boo-booMy Profile

  13. Seems like even if there is no absolute proof, there’s no downside to keeping your dog in shape.
    De Hufford recently posted…Nature, 52 Snapshot Challenge on Fit Dog Friday in the Pet ParadeMy Profile

  14. It would make sense to me that a stronger body remains healthier & thus lives longer than a weaker, potentially sicker, body. Looking forward to your K9 strength series!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Starting our day on the right paw!My Profile

  15. Looking forward to those future articles. Seems like it would make sense that way.

  16. Interesting. I would think strength training would help… and at a minimum I think it could help dogs avoid certain injuries
    Diane recently posted…Hiking Georgia With Dogs: Garland Mountain Horse and Hike TrailMy Profile

  17. This is very interesting and we pretty much agree. Mom knows how important strength is dealing with chronic back pain and recuperating from surgery. Without her doing the work before the after would have been so much more difficult. So it only makes sense that being strong will make you live longer. And for us dogs too! Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…A Fit Dog is a Happy DogMy Profile

  18. This is great information. One of the reasons I changed our dogs diet was to give them a chance at a better, longer life. Now adding strength training will be a great partner. There are so many things I’ve learned from this site that are helping our dogs. I’m beyond thankful.

  19. It stands to reason that it would be a tremendous help. Great post!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…A Fish Tale #FFHTMy Profile

  20. Makes sense to me that these benefits would apply to dogs as well but it is definitely not something I have ever considered. I look forward to your articles on how strength training could be incorporated into a dogs exercise routine – off the top of my head I have no clue!
    MyDogLikes recently posted…NBBA World Series of Beep BaseballMy Profile

  21. I think it makes perfect sense and I look forward to your series so we can learn what to do!
    Jan K recently posted…Clicker Training – A Positive Experience – Putting Toys AwayMy Profile

  22. It makes sense that it would benefit dogs just as much. I’m looking forward to reading more.
    Clowie recently posted…8 Photos of HappinessMy Profile

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