Regularly exercising with weights may lower death risk

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In a study from National Cancer Institute, scientists found regularly exercising with weights is linked to a lower risk of death from any cause, with the exception of cancer.

They suggest ensuring that a weekly exercise routine includes both weights and aerobic activities seems to have an additive effect.

Current guidelines on physical activity for all adults recommend at least 150 weekly minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equal combination of the two—usually referred to as MVPA (moderate to vigorous physical activity).

All adults are also recommended to incorporate activities that work for all the major muscle groups.

Yet while aerobic exercise is consistently linked to a lower risk of death, it’s not clear if working out with weights might have similar effects.

In the study, the team set out to evaluate separately and jointly the potential impact of exercising with weights and aerobic activities on the risk of death among older people.

They used data from participants in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial.

This began in 1993 and includes 154,897 men and women aged 55-74 from 10 different cancer centers in the United States.

In 2006, 104,002 of the participants were additionally asked if they had exercised with weights over the past year, and if so, how often they had done so—anything from less than once a month to several times a week.

They were also asked about the frequency and duration of both moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity over the past year.

The team found exercising with weights and aerobics were both independently associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, as well as from cardiovascular disease, but not from cancer.

Overall, working out with weights was associated with a 9-22% lower risk of death, depending on the amount. For example, using weights once or twice a week was associated with a 14% lower risk.

Similarly, among those who didn’t exercise with weights, aerobic exercise was linked to a 24-34% lower risk of death from any cause, compared with those who reported neither MVPA nor exercising with weights.

But the lowest risk of death was seen among those who said they did both types of physical activity.

Educational attainment, smoking, BMI, race and ethnicity didn’t significantly change the associations observed, but sex did: The associations were stronger in women.

The study focused only on weights, but there are other types of muscle strengthening exercises, which include push-ups and squats; Pilates; and plyometric exercises, which include tuck jumps and burpees.

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The study was conducted by Charles E Matthews et al and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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