Muscle strengthening can help humans live a few years longer: Study
Just half an hour of muscle strengthening activity per week, such as lifting weights or heavy gardening, lowers the risk of death from major diseases, according to a new study.
Regular muscle-strengthening activity, from weightlifting to calisthenics, is linked to a 10-20% lower risk of dying from serious chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, according to the study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The report scraped data from relevant studies that included adults without major health problems who had been monitored for at least two years.
The final analysis included 16 studies, with the majority conducted in the US with participants aged between 18 and 97-years-old.
Until now, health guidance recommended muscle-strengthening activities because of the benefits to musculoskeletal health, but health professionals were unsure what the optimal “dose” was.
The study found no further evidence that more than an hour a week reduced the risk any further, however.
In addition to activities such as weight-lifting, working with resistance bands or doing exercises that use your bodyweight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, muscle strengthening activities can also include heavy gardening, carrying heavy shopping bags, yoga, pilates and carrying children.
Adults are advised to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week, plus strengthening activities at least two days a week. Researchers found that people benefited most when they regularly did both.
And it’s not just physical health that can improve from strength training.
A 2018 study by the University of Limerick found that lifting weights is associated “with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.”
The researchers concluded that strength training could be used as an alternative or addition to therapy for depressive symptoms.