We should all be doing these three strength training exercises if we want longer, healthier lives, according to a trainer

Build strength and maintain your mobility with these moves

Woman stretching outside before a workout
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It's no secret that exercise can boost your mood and give you a stronger, fitter body. But did you know it can also help you live a longer life? Research suggests it can increase your life expectancy by up to 6.9 years, so it's worth putting some time aside to work out every week.

With this in mind, ACSM-certified personal trainer Cara D'Orazio gave Fit&Well her top exercises to help you live a long, healthy life. There’s no complicated equipment needed, so if you already own a pair of dumbbells (or adjustable dumbbells if you fancy changing the weight between moves), then grab them and get ready to go.

Cara D'Orazio
Cara D'Orazio

Cara is a certified trainer and the founder of CGM fitness. She has 20 years of experience and is certified through the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) and ISSA (International Sports and Sciences Association.)

Exercises for longevity

Woman squatting with dumbbells held at her side

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Squat to curl and military press

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold dumbbell weights by your side (check out our explainer on what dumbbell weight to choose if you need help picking your load).
  • Bend your knees, pushing your hips backward as you sit into the squat, keeping the weight in your heels.
  • Return to the standing position, pushing through your heels to do so.
  • Keeping your elbows close to your ribcage, curl the dumbbells toward your shoulders.
  • To finish, press the dumbbells overhead, extending your arms fully.

Why it's good for longevity

This compound exercise mimics a lot of our everyday movement patterns. The curl and military press replicate lifting and pushing movements, while the squat keeps your legs strong for sitting and standing.

Doing this kind of functional strength training readies your body for everyday life. It strengthens the muscles we regularly rely on, while also working the hip, knee, and shoulder joints through a good range of motion, boosting your mobility.

Man doing deadlift with dumbbells in a dark gym setting

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Romanian deadlift to triceps kickback

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold your dumbbells in both hands.
  • Engage your core and start to hinge forwards. Maintain a very slight bend in the knee, and keep your back straight. The dumbbells should stay close to your legs.
  • When you’ve reached the bottom deadlift position, extend your arms straight behind you, pushing the dumbbells back until your arms are extended fully.
  • Slowly bring your arms back in front of you, and stand up from the deadlift position.

Why it's good for longevity

Deadlift movements strengthen your posterior chain, which are the muscles running up the backside of your body. Strengthening them could reduce lower back pain (a common complaint for older adults) and help you maintain a healthy posture.

The tricep kickbacks will help you build stronger arms, which can help you carry heavy objects as you age.

Woman doing sumo goblet squat in gym

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Sumo squat to shoulder shrug

  • Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with toes pointed out to the side. Hold a heavy dumbbell in your hands in front of your chest.
  • Engaging your core muscles and keeping your back straight, lower into a wide squat position by bending your knees and pushing your hips back.
  • Push through your heels back into the starting position and move into a shoulder shrug at the top, shrugging your shoulders upward towards your ears, lifting the dumbbells with you

Why it's good for longevity

Another compound exercise, the sumo squat to shoulder shrug primarily targets your inner thighs and your trapezius (muscles running in a triangle shape across the top of the back). A strong trapezius supports your posture and shoulder strength, which is useful for lifting heavy objects or pulling down items from your high-up shelves.

Your inner thighs are an important component for your hip strength, helping to stabilize them and aiding in balance.

Need some new weights for your home workouts? Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells can help

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness Writer

Lois Mackenzie is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering strength training workouts with weights, accessible ways to stay active at home, and training routines for runners. She joined the team from Newsquest Media Group, where she was a senior sports, trends, and lifestyle reporter. She is a dedicated runner, having just completed her first marathon, and an advocate for spending time outdoors, whether on a walk, taking a long run, or swimming in the sea. 

Lois holds a Master's degree in Digital Journalism, and has written for Good Health, Wellbeing & The Great Outdoors, Metro.co.uk, and Newsquest Media Group, where her reporting was published in over 200 local newspapers.