Muscle-strengthening activities may lower a person’s risk for death from a variety of diseases, according to a new study. Photo courtesy of the Center of Disease Control and Prevention
Engaging in 30 to 60 minutes of muscle strengthening activity weekly can reduce the risk of death from heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other causes by up to 20%, an analysis published Monday by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found.
This is independent of any aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, jogging or bike-riding, the researchers said.
The analysis of data from 16 studies, all published within the past 10 years and most conducted in the United States, revealed that muscle strengthening activities lowered a person’s risk for death from any cause by 10% to 17%, they said.
Muscle-strengthening activities such as lifting weights, push-ups and heavy gardening, including digging and shoveling, reduced a person’s risk for death from heart disease and stroke, as well as diabetes and lung cancer, by a similar amount, according to the researchers.
In addition, combining muscle strengthening and aerobic activities led to a 40% reduction in the risk of death from any cause and 46% in heart disease death risk, the data showed.
Although muscle strength activities alone reduced the risk for death from all types of cancers by 28%, they did not lower the likelihood of death from certain forms of the disease, including bowel, kidney, bladder or pancreatic cancer, the researchers said.
“Doing muscle-strengthening activities have a health benefit independent of aerobic activities,” study co-author Haruki Momma told UPI in an email.
“It is also important that activities work all the major muscle groups, such as legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms,” said Momma, a lecturer in medicine and science in sports and exercise at Tohoku University in Seiryomachi, Japan.
Physical activity can lower the risk for “preventable” death in older adults, research suggests.
But lack of physical activity can increase the risk for disease recurrence in cancer survivors, according to recent studies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and multiple medical professional societies recommend regular muscle strengthening activities for adults, primarily because of the known benefits for skeletal muscle health.
Examples of muscle-strengthening exercises include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, push-ups, sit-ups and squats, the agency says.
However, certain daily activities can replicate the benefits of these activities, Momma and his colleagues said.
Earlier studies have suggested increased muscle-strengthening activity can prolong life, but the optimal “dose,” or amount that provides the most benefit, remains unknown, they said.
Their analysis included results from 16 studies that enrolled more than 500,000 people collectively.
All the studies considered aerobic or other types of physical activity as well as muscle strengthening activities, the researchers said.
The review of the data showed that engaging in up to 60 minutes per week of muscle strengthening activities led to a “large” reduction in the risk for death, they said.
However, there was a “gradual tapering off” in the risk reduction as the amount of activity increased above 60 minutes per week or more, according to the researchers.
“A higher volume [of muscle-strengthening activity] may require caution,” Momma said.