MAR 15, 2022 9:12 AM PDT

Muscle-Strengthening Exercises Lower Risk of Death

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has linked muscle-strengthening exercises to a lower risk of all-cause mortality. While most previous research has focused on the (well-established) benefits of aerobic exercise, relatively few studies have examined the link between muscle strengthening and mortality.

The review and meta-analysis included sixteen previous studies and examined how time spent on muscle-strengthening activities was related to mortality and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Interestingly, the researchers found that the relationship between muscle-strengthening activities and all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer was J shaped, with the maximum risk reduction (about 10–20%) occurring at 30–60 minutes of exercise per week. The relationship with diabetes, on the other hand, was L-shaped, with exercise up 60 minutes per week significantly reducing risk. The researchers also found that a combination of muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities lowered the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality.

The health benefits of physical activity are well known. Immediate benefits after an exercise session include greater cognitive skills and lowered feels of anxiety. Long-term exercise leads to better sleep, improved weight management, lower risk of a range of health conditions (including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, and some cancers), and improved overall wellbeing. Amazingly, people who participate in physical activity for an average of 150 minutes per week have a 33% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who do not participate in physical activity. However, even small amounts of exercise every week can add up to serious benefits; just 10 minutes per day of moderate exercise has been shown to increase lifespan, with more exercise leading to greater improvements in longevity.

Sources: British Journal of Sports Medicine, CDC, Labroots

About the Author
PhD in Biophysics
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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