One hour of strength training a week can extend your life

TUESDAY, March 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Adding regular strength training to your exercise routine can not only make you stronger, but also allow you to live longer, report researchers in Japan.

Their new study indicates that 30 to 60 minutes per week of muscle building can reduce the risk of dying prematurely from any cause and from heart and vascular disease, diabetes or cancer by up to 20%.

“Doing muscle-strengthening activities has a beneficial effect on health regardless of aerobic activities,” said lead researcher Haruki Momma, associate professor of medicine and sport and exercise science at Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai.

Strengthening exercises include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and performing push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. It can also include heavy gardening, such as digging and shoveling, the researchers said.

“Although several physical activity guidelines recommend that adults perform muscle-strengthening activities based on musculoskeletal health benefits, our results support this recommendation in terms of preventing premature death and major chronic diseases. “Momma said. “Furthermore, our results suggest that optimal doses of muscle-strengthening activities for the prevention of all-cause death, cardiovascular disease, and cancer may exist.”

For the study, Momma and her colleagues pooled data from 16 published studies. The studies, which included both men and women, ranged from nearly 4,000 participants to almost 480,000.

The analysis found that building muscle was linked to a 10-17% reduction in the risk of premature death from any cause, as well as heart and blood vessel disease, stroke, diabetes, lung cancer and cancer as a whole.

They found no link between building muscle and a reduced risk of colon, kidney, bladder or pancreatic cancer.

The greatest benefit was seen when strength training was done for up to one hour per week.

But more was not necessarily better. After 60 minutes of strengthening exercises in one week, no additional benefit in preventing premature death was observed.

Even better than strength training alone was combining it with aerobic exercise. (Aerobic exercise includes swimming, cycling, walking, and rowing.)

The combo reduced the risk of dying prematurely from any cause by 40%; heart and vascular disease by 46% and cancer by 28%, the researchers found.

The results were published online February 28 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Dr. Russell Camhi, sports medicine specialist at Northwell Health in Great Neck, NY, reviewed the new study.

“There’s good evidence that people should incorporate strength training into their workout regimen,” Camhi said.

For men, weight training increases testosterone. For both men and women, it helps maintain bone density and decreases the risk of falls and fractures, he said.

“Strength training has also been shown to help with mental health and mood,” Camhi said. “There are a lot of benefits that come from activating the muscular system.”

Camhi recommends starting with weight-bearing exercises and gradually moving to using weights or other equipment. Weight-bearing exercises include walking, dancing, and stair climbing.

“Start with a simple weight-bearing exercise, then add small weights as tolerated,” Camhi advised.

“You don’t want to jump into strength training too quickly because it can lead to overuse and sometimes injury if not done correctly,” he added.

Camhi noted that videos and other teaching materials are easy to find online, and that classes and personal trainers can also help you get started.

It’s never too late to start a strength training program, he said.

“There are always benefits to be had from it. We can’t always reverse all of the losses caused by chronic disease, but there are always benefits to be had from exercise,” Camhi said.

More information

To learn more about the benefits of exercise, check out the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Haruki Momma, PhD, lecturer, Department of Medicine and Sport and Exercise Science, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan; Russell Camhi, DO, sports medicine specialist, Northwell Health, Great Neck, NY; British Journal of Sports MedicineFebruary 28, 2022, online

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