Summary: A new study reports that regular weight exercise is linked to a lower risk of death. Incorporating aerobic and weight-based exercises adds to the protective effect.
Regular exercise with weights is associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, except for cancer, finds research in older adults published online in British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The results suggest that making sure your weekly exercise routine includes both weights and aerobic activities appears to have an additive effect.
Current guidelines on physical activity for all adults recommend at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equal combination of the two—commonly referred to as MVPA (moderate to vigorous activity). ).
All adults are also advised to incorporate activities that work all major muscle groups. However, while aerobic exercise is consistently associated with a lower risk of death, it is not clear whether exercise with weights might have similar effects.
In an effort to bridge this knowledge gap, the researchers set out to conduct a separate and joint assessment of the potential impact of weight-bearing exercise and aerobic activities on the risk of death among the elderly.
They were based on participants from the Prostate, Lung, Colon, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. This began in 1993 and includes 154,897 men and women between the ages of 55 and 74 from 10 different cancer centers in the United States.
In 2006, 104,002 participants were additionally asked if they had exercised with weights in the past year, and if so, how often – anything from less than once a month to several times a week.
They were asked about the frequency and duration of both moderate and vigorous physical activity over the past year.
Moderate intensity has been described as ‘activity in which you sweat lightly or increases your respiratory rate and heart rate to moderately high levels’ and vigorous activity as ‘activity strenuous enough to sweat or raise your breathing and heart rate to very high levels.’ “.
Four activity groups were created based on the MVPA’s total weekly minutes: (1) inactive, 0 minutes; (2) Insufficient antenna MVPA, 1 to 149 minutes; (3) Adequate, more than 150 minutes of moderate activity, or equivalent vigorous activity; and (4) vigorous activity, 301 minutes or more of moderate activity, or equivalent vigorous activity.
In all, 99,713 responses were included in the final analysis, of whom 28,477 died over 9½ years of observation. Their mean age at the start of the observation period was 71, and their mean weight (BMI) was 27.8 kg/m2 Which is defined as being overweight.
Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) respondents reported some weight lifting activity; 16% said they exercise regularly between one and six times a week. Nearly a third (32%) were sufficiently aerobic, either meeting (24%) or exceeding (8%) the guidelines for the MVPA.
Exercising with weights and aerobic MVPA were independently associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, as well as from cardiovascular disease, but not from cancer.
Overall, training with weights in the absence of MVPA was associated with a 9-22% lower risk of death, depending on quantity: for example, using weights once or twice a week was associated with a 14% lower risk.
Similarly, among those who did not exercise with weights, aerobic MVPA was associated with a 24-34% lower risk of death from any cause, compared to those who did not report MVPA and did not exercise with weights.
But a lower risk of death was seen among those who said they did both types of physical activity.
For example, the risk of death was 41-47% lower among those who said they met the recommended weekly levels of MVPA and who exercised with weights once or twice a week compared to those who were not physically active.
Educational attainment, smoking, BMI, race, and ethnicity did not significantly alter the associations observed, but gender did: the associations were stronger in women.
This is an observational study, and as such, it is not possible to determine the cause, which was added to the subjective recall and included data from a single point in time. No specific details were available about training intensity, training load, volume (sets and repetitions), and length of time participants exercised with weights, all of which influenced the results.
The study focused only on weights, but there are other types of muscle-strengthening exercises, the researchers say, citing calisthin, which includes push-ups and squats. Pilates. and plyometric exercises, which include flexion jumps and burpees.
Using weights can make the body leaner: Overall lean mass is independently associated with a lower risk of death, the researchers say by explaining their findings. And if done in the gym, it can also be very social — another factor linked to a longer, healthier life.
“Our finding that the risk of death appeared to be lower for those who participated in both types of exercise provides strong support for current recommendations for participation in both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities,” they wrote.
They concluded, “Older adults may benefit from adding weight-bearing exercises to their physical activity routine.”
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“Independent and joint associations of weightlifting and aerobic activity with all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality in the prostate, lung, colorectal, and ovarian cancer screening trialCharles E. Matthews et al. British Journal of Sports Medicine
Independent and joint associations of weightlifting and aerobic activity with all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality in the prostate, lung, colorectal, and ovarian cancer screening trial
Both moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity (MVPA) and muscle strengthening exercises (MSE) are recommended, but the benefits of weight lifting, a specific type of MSE, are limited.
In the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, we used Cox proportional hazards regression to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for associations between weight lifting and mortality, adjusting for demographic, lifestyle, and behavioral risk factors. The sample included 99,713 adults who completed a follow-up questionnaire that assessed weight lifting who were subsequently followed through 2016 to determine mortality (median 9, IQR 7.6-10.6 years).
The mean age in the follow-up questionnaire was 71.3 (IQR 66-76) years, 52.6% female, with a mean BMI of 27.8 (SD 4.9) kg/m2. Weight lifting was associated with a 9% lower risk of all-cause mortality (HR=0.91 (95% CI 0.88 to 0.94)) and a reduced CVD mortality rate (0.91 (95% CI 0.86 to 0.97)) after adjustment for MVPA. Combined models revealed that adults who met the aerobic MVPA recommendations but did not lift weights had a 32% lower risk of all-cause mortality (heart rate = 0.68 (95% CI 0.65 to 0.70)), while those who also reported weight lifting 1- 2 times per week had a 41% lower risk (heart rate = 0.59 (95% confidence interval 0.54 to 0.64)), both compared to adults who did not report any aerobic activity or weight lifting. Without adjusting for MVPA, weight lifting was associated with lower cancer mortality (heart rate = 0.85 (95% confidence interval 0.80 to 0.91)).
Weightlifting and MVPA were associated with lower risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, but not deaths from cancer. Adults who meet the recommended amounts of both types of exercise appear to gain an additional benefit.