A new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine makes a strong case for muscle-strengthening activities.
According to the research team, who investigated data from adults in England, Scotland, Japan, Australia, and the U.S., performing muscle-strengthening exercises every week for 30–60 minutes per week is associated with a 10–20 percent lower risk of death from all causes. This includes dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, and cancer.
Aerobic exercise was not factored into the analysis; however, scientists found a link between aerobic exercise, muscle-strengthening activities, and CVD and cancer risk reduction.
“Joint analysis between muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities showed that a greater benefit for all, CVD and total cancer mortality was obtained when these two types of activities were combined. These results confirm the findings of previous meta-analyses. Therefore, beyond aerobic activities, muscle-strengthening activities may provide additional benefits for preventing mortality,” say the researchers.
One of the strengths of the study, say scientists, was the quantification of the dose-response association between muscle-strengthening activities and health outcomes. Previous cohort studies have reported a non-linear association between muscle-strengthening activities and health outcomes.
Some of the best forms of muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights, heavy gardening, certain forms of yoga, tai chi, carrying heavy shopping bags, working with resistance bands, and push-ups.
Muscle-strengthening activities were inversely associated with the risk of all-cause mortality and major non-communicable diseases including CVD, total cancer, diabetes, and lung cancer; however, the influence of a higher volume of muscle-strengthening activities on all-cause mortality, CVD, and total cancer is unclear when considering the observed J-shaped associations.