weak boy lifting weightIf you were weak as a teenager, you’re at increased risk of becoming ill and/or dying from a number of factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden studied more than 1 million Swedish 16-19-year old males and gave them strength tests at the beginning of the study. Guys who were considered strong as teenagers had a 20-35-percent lower risk of dying from any cause than guys who had low muscle strength.

The strongest teens were also 20-30-percent less likely to commit suicide and a whopping 65 percent less likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, depression, or other psychiatric disorder, according to the study’s authors. The results were published in the peer-reviewed journal, BMJ.

In a news release, lead researchers Finn Rasmussen said, that his team’s findings suggest that lower muscle strength in teens “is an emerging risk factor for major causes of death in young adulthood, such as suicide and cardiovascular diseases.”

Note: While the study found an association between low muscle strength in the teen years and early death, it’s not clear that one directly causes the other. And while exercise and strength training is good for almost everyone, check with  your doctor before starting an exercise program.