One hour of weekly weight training could cut risk of death by 20%
Research continues to demonstrate how the health benefits of weight training go far beyond cultivating the ideal beach body. The latest study to shed light on this topic explores the links between muscle-strengthening activities and risk of death, and found that as little as 30-60 minutes of this activity per week could have a significant impact on our longevity.
The research was undertaken by scientists in Japan and involved a systematic review of 16 studies on the exercise habits of adults without serious health problems. This covered the muscle-strengthening activities of hundreds of thousands of men and women aged between 18 and 97, and enabled the researchers to tease out new insights around the mortality risk associated with different lifestyles.
While research has found regular muscle-strengthening carries a lower risk of death generally, the authors of the new study sought to really drill into what the ideal amount might be. Their systematic review revealed that a maximum effect was tied to 30-60 minutes of muscle-strengthening exercise per week, which lowered the risk of death from any cause by 10 to 20%.
Examples of muscle-strengthening include lifting weights, resistance band exercises, push-ups, sit-ups, squats and even heavy gardening with a shovel. The team also found that undertaking this type of activity for up to 60 minutes a week was associated with a sharp risk reduction for diabetes. Interestingly, the research also found no conclusive evidence that doing more than an hour of muscle-strengthening had any extra benefit.
Combining muscle-strengthening activities with aerobic exercise was found to have even more profound effects. This combination was associated with a 40% decrease in risk from any cause, 46% decrease in risk of death from cardiovascular disease and 28% decrease in risk of death from cancer.
There are a few limitations of the study worth noting, with the reviewed literature based on subjective assessments of muscle-strengthening activities, rather than close observation in a clinical setting, and that most were carried out in the US. The authors hope to carry out further research on more diverse populations to really cement the findings.
The research was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.