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Stay strong, live long

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Spending just 30-60 minutes a week on muscle strengthening exercises can significantly reduce the risk of dying prematurely from all causes.

A new global analysis of 16 studies conducted over three decades suggests that lifting weights, doing push-ups or "heavy gardening" each week could help reduce the risk of dying prematurely by as much as a fifth.

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, was conducted by a team of researchers in Japan.

It found that 30 to 60 minutes of strength training every week is linked to a 10 to 20 per cent lower risk of premature death from all causes, and from heart disease and cancer.

The analysis used studies with participant numbers varying from 4,000 to 480,000, with participants' age ranging from 18 to 97.

According to the study authors, the effect of strength training was particularly effective if combined with aerobic exercise.

"Engaging in muscle-strengthening activities was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality and major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancers, diabetes and lung cancer in particular," the research team said.

"However, the influence of a higher volume of muscle-strengthening activities on all-cause mortality, CVD and total cancer is unclear, considering the observed J-shaped associations.

"In addition, the combination of muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities may provide a greater benefit for reducing all-cause, CVD and total cancer mortality.

"Given that the available data are limited, further studies – such as studies focusing on a more diverse population – are needed to increase the certainty of the evidence."

To access the full research, titled Muscle-strengthening activities are associated with lower risk and mortality in major non-communicable diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies click here for British Journal of Sports Medicine.


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