Study: 30-60 minutes of weight training a week can add years to your life

Kristen Rogers, CNN

(CNN) – You may have heard that strengthening exercises benefit your muscle and bone health the most, but they can have two other big benefits: they help prevent disease and live longer.

Now we can know how much time you need to spend on these exercises new research published Monday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Compared with people who did not do exercises to strengthen muscles, those who did 30-60 minutes of strength training or weight training each week had a 10-20% lower risk of early death from all causes and heart disease. diabetes or cancer in general, the study authors found. These types of exercises are designed to improve muscle shape by training the muscles against external resistance, according to American College of Sports Medicine.

Combining 30-60 minutes of strengthening exercises with any amount of aerobic activity increased the benefits, resulting in a 40% lower risk of premature death, a 46% lower risk of heart disease, and a 28% lower chance of dying from cancer. The study is also the first to examine the long-term links between muscle-strengthening classes and the risk of developing diabetes, the authors say.

“Many previous studies have shown the beneficial effects of muscle-strengthening exercises on noncommunicable diseases and the risk of early death,” said Haruki Moma, first author of the study, a lecturer in medicine and science at sports and exercise at Tohoku University in Japan, via email. “We could expect our findings to some extent because this study was planned to combine previous findings.”

The new study is an analysis of 16 previous studies that made up a data pool of nearly 480,000 study participants. They ranged in age from 18 to 98, and most were in the United States. Participants either reported their participation in muscle strengthening activities themselves or answered questions during the interview.

“The research methods are valid, and the results are important, but it’s not surprising to me,” said Dr. William Roberts, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Minnesota. He was not involved in the study. 30 to 60 minutes a week are doable for most people and make me feel good from the 5-15 minutes of strength training I do every morning.

The findings are “great news for people who are active, and more news for those who are inactive because they can improve their health with a small investment of time,” added Roberts, a former president and current employee of the American College of Sports Medicine. . . “However, people need to start slow and build slowly to avoid the pain of too much activity too early.”

Important note: If you feel pain during exercise, stop immediately. Consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

How strength manages health risks

A new study has not explored why strength training is so effective in reducing the risk of early death and certain diseases. But this type of exercise is important for reducing body fat and building muscle mass, which can help balance, posture and regulate cholesterol, said Dr. Nika Goldberg, medical director of Atria New York and clinical associate professor of medicine at Grossman Medical School in New York. . Goldberg was not involved in the study.

“We know that obese people are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, glucose intolerance and some cancers, so improving this profile (health) is beneficial,” Goldberg said. In addition, “people who engage in regular activities … can also have a healthier outlook and lead a different healthy lifestyle.”

The more benefit of mixing aerobics with strengthening exercises may be because they “seem to work together and help each other move toward better results,” Roberts said. “A balanced program of strength and aerobic activity is probably better and probably more mimics the activities of our ancestors, which helped determine our current sets of genes.”

Aerobic exercise includes walking, dancing, running or jogging, cycling and swimming, Goldberg said. Exercises with weights that you can perform for 30 to 60 minutes include deadlifts, tapped dumbbell presses and side dumbbell lifts, which includes using your back and shoulder muscles to lift light dumbbells so that your arms and body form a T-shape. form.

Most participants did not benefit from performing strengthening exercises for more than one hour, but the study did not investigate why this is so.

However, the results of previous studies differed, Roberts said: some showed improved health at higher levels of activity.

“This is pool data, meaning it’s several studies combined. So if you do one study with a lot of people, you can measure other variables that could potentially cause (worst result after 60 minutes),” he said. Goldberg. “We cannot explain this on the basis of this study. Further research will be needed.”

The conclusion about the reduction of the risk of developing diabetes can be explained by activities to strengthen muscles, increase or maintain skeletal muscle mass, which plays an important role in regulation of blood sugar levels, the authors say.

In general, the key is to be active and stay active with an exercise program that you enjoy and that you can follow, Roberts and Goldberg said.

“You don’t need to train before a marathon to be healthy and improve your health,” Roberts added via email. “A combination of 5-10 minutes of strength training and 30 minutes of walking on most days of the week will bring great health benefits to the entire population.”

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