-Researchers tracked more than one million Swedish male adolescents over 24 years
-They found stronger boys lived longer, even if they became overweight adults
-Physically weaker people might be more mentally vulnerable, it was suggested
After a summer witnessing crowds of screaming girls jostling to catch a glimpse of Olympic diver Tod Daley's toned torso, there can't have been many young men who didn't feel a twinge of jealousy.
But now it seems there could be more to having the teenager's athletic physique than unfailing female attention - it could help you live longer too.
A team of researchers from Sweden have found muscular boys will live longer than their weaker friends.
|A new study has claimed muscular teenage boys could live longer than their weaker school friends. |
Olympic diver Tom Daley, 18, has achieved his athletic physique through years of training
And even if they are overweight by the time they get to adulthood, those with stronger muscles tend to live longer.
The team tracked more than one million Swedish male adolescents, all conscripts to the army and aged 16 to 19, over a period of 24 years.
The teenagers were asked to grip and to do leg curls and arm push ups as a test of muscle strength.
The scientists found those with low strength, weak legs and arms and with a limp grip, were more likely to die earlier.
The report also suggests that physically weaker people might be more mentally vulnerable.
But the study, published in the BMJ, stressed that it does not mean building muscle through excessive weight training would make you live longer.
They have concluded that a basis of muscle strength instead reflects general fitness.
Over the course of the study, 26,145 of the men died.
The leading single cause of death was accidental injury, followed by suicide, cancer, heart disease and stroke.
A third of the deaths were due to other causes and the researchers grouped these together for their calculations.
The teenagers who scored above average on muscular strength at the start of the study had a 20 to 35 per cent lower risk of early death from any cause and also from cardiovascular diseases.
They also had a 20 to 30 per cent lower risk of early death from suicide and were up to 65 per cent less likely to have any psychiatric diagnosis, such as schizophrenia or depression.
But the 16 to 19 year olds with the lowest level of muscular strength had the highest risk of dying before they reached their middle ages.
While the effect of poor muscular fitness in those observed was similar to other risk factors for early death, such as obesity and high blood pressure, researchers still found the link between early death and muscle power remained after the other factors were taken into account.
The study also found thin and fat men alike fared worse in terms of life expectancy if they had weaker than average muscles, while more muscular men had better survival odds even if they were overweight.
But experts stress the findings do not mean muscle building through excessive weight training makes you live longer.