Doing 30 to 60 minutes of one exercise weekly could help you live longer, study says
You might have heard that strengthening exercises most benefit your muscular and skeletal health, but they could have two other big perks: helping you prevent disease and live longer.
Compared with people who didn’t do muscle-strengthening activities, those who did 30 to 60 minutes of resistance, strength or weight training weekly had a 10% to 20% lower risk of early death from all causes, and of getting heart disease, diabetes or cancer at all, the research authors found. These types of exercises are designed to improve muscular fitness by exercising muscles against external resistance, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
Combining 30 to 60 minutes of strengthening exercises with any amount of aerobic activity enhanced the benefit, resulting in a 40% lower risk of premature death, a 46% lower incidence of heart disease and a 28% lower chance of dying from cancer. The research is also the first to examine long-term links between muscle-strengthening activities and diabetes risk, the authors said.
The new research is an analysis of 16 prior studies, which amounted to a pool of data from nearly 480,000 study participants. They were between 18 and 98 years old, and most were based in the United States. Participants either self-reported their engagement in muscle-strengthening activities or answered questions during interviews.
The new research didn’t explore why strength training is so effective in lowering risk of early death and certain diseases. But this type of exercise is important for reducing body fat and building lean muscle, which can help with balance, posture and regulating cholesterol levels, said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, the medical director of Atria New York City and clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. Goldberg wasn’t involved in the study.
The stronger benefit from mixing aerobics with strengthening exercises could be because the two appear to work together and help each other move toward better outcomes. A balanced program of strength and aerobic activity is probably best and probably more closely mimics the activities of our ancestors, which helped determine our current gene sets.
Aerobic exercises include walking, dancing, running or jogging, cycling, and swimming, Goldberg said. Weight-training exercises you can do for 30 to 60 minutes include deadlifts, overhead dumbbell presses and dumbbell lateral raises, which involves using your back and shoulder muscles to lift light dumbbells so that your arms and body form a T shape.
Most participants didn’t benefit from doing the strengthening exercises for longer than one hour, but the research didn’t examine why that was the case.
However, results of previous studies have varied, Roberts said: Some have shown improved health at higher activity levels.
The finding concerning lower diabetes risk could be explained by muscle-strengthening activities increasing or preserving skeletal muscle mass, which has a major role in regulating blood sugar levels, the authors said.
Overall, the main takeaway is to get active and stay active with an exercise program you like and can stick with.
Rogers, Kristen. “Doing 30 to 60 Minutes of One Exercise Weekly Could Help You Live Longer, Study Says.” CNN, Cable News Network, 5 Mar. 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/05/health/muscle-strengthening-exercises-disease-death-risk-wellness/index.html.
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