Weekly muscle strength exercise may help reduce early death risk

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In a new study, researchers found between 30 and 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity every week is linked to a 10-20% lower risk of death from all causes, and from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, in particular.

The findings are independent of aerobic exercise. The team found no conclusive evidence that more than an hour a week of muscle-strengthening activity reduces the risk further.

Physical activity guidelines recommend regular muscle-strengthening activities for adults, primarily because of the known benefits for skeletal muscle health.

Examples of these activities include lifting weights; working with resistance bands; push-ups, sit-ups, and squats; and heavy gardening, such as digging and shoveling.

In the study, the team used databases for relevant that included adults without major health issues who had been monitored for at least 2 years.

Study participant numbers varied from nearly 4000 to almost 480,000 and ranged in age from 18 to 97. All the studies considered aerobic or other types of physical activity as well as muscle-strengthening activities.

The team showed that muscle-strengthening activities were associated with a 10–17% lower risk of death from any cause, as well as death from heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, and lung cancer.

No association was found between muscle strengthening and a reduced risk of specific types of cancer, including those of the bowel, kidney, bladder, or pancreas.

A J-shaped curve emerged, with a maximum risk reduction of between 10–20% at approximately 30–60 minutes/week of muscle-strengthening activities for death from any cause, cardiovascular disease, and all cancer.

An L-shaped association was observed for diabetes, with a large risk reduction up to 60 minutes/week of muscle-strengthening activities, after which there was a gradual tapering off.

Joint analysis of muscle strengthening and aerobic activities showed that the reduction in risk of death from any cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer was even greater when these two types of activities were combined: 40%, 46%, and 28% lower, respectively.

Because most of the studies were carried out in the US, the results might not be more widely applicable, caution the researchers, who add that the included studies were all observational rather than clinical trials.

Given the J-shaped associations, the potential of a higher volume of muscle-strengthening activities on the reduction in risk of death is unclear.

If you care about exercise, please read studies about exercise that is vital to improving longevity in older people, and this type of exercise may slow down bone aging.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies about nutrient supplement that may help you live longer like exercise, and results showing that one year of this exercise training may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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