A new study recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology points to the ability to generate power as key component in living a long life.
I think a few definitions are in order here:
Muscular strength is the ability of a muscle to live a given load.
Muscular power is the ability to generate force and velocity and coordinate movement. This is boiled down into the famous equation force times distance.
"Rising from a chair in old age and kicking a ball depend more on muscle power than muscle strength, yet most weight bearing exercise focuses on the latter." -Professor Claudio Gil Araujo.
In the study, 3,878 non-athletes were tested on their muscular power using the upright row. The average age of the study group was 59 years old, with 5% of the group being over the age of 80, and 68% of the group being men.
During a median follow up at 6.5 years, 247 (10%) of the men had died, while 75 (6%) of the women had died.
The study participants with the muscle power over the median for their sex had the best chance of survival.
This is not something to wait for either. You want to bring power training into your fitness regimen when you're young and maintain that into older age.