A recently published study has found an association between muscle-strengthening activities and a reduced risk of death from all causes.
The researchers' analysis offers new and specific insights into the type and duration of activities that can increase lifespan and reduce the risk of potentially deadly conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Today, we'll examine this study to learn how you can apply its findings to reap the benefits of muscle-strengthening activities– including stronger bones.
A Review Of Studies On Muscle Strengthening Activities
For this study, researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of previously published cohort studies that examined the relationship between muscle-strengthening activities and health outcomes in healthy adults.
A cohort study is a robust form of medical research which follows a group of people over time. In this type of study, researchers can take baseline measurements of participants' health, and then compare outcomes over time. This allows researchers to assess the health impacts of different factors in participants' lives, such as their diets, exercise habits, and environments.
Ultimately, this review focused on 16 cohort studies that monitored participants for time spans ranging from two to 25 years. The participants, aged 18 to 98 years were both men and women, altogether numbering in the hundreds of thousands. All of the studies considered the effect of both aerobic exercise (like running or swimming) and strength training.
The various studies also tracked the health outcomes of the participants, including mortality linked to non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Researchers reviewed data from 16 cohort studies that followed groups of adults of all ages for two to 25 years. All the studies considered the health impacts of aerobic exercise and strength training.
Building Muscle Extends Lifespan
When the researchers compared the results of the 16 different cohort studies, they found a pattern of consistent results. They established that muscle-strengthening activities were associated with a 10-17% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and all-cause mortality. That was true regardless of the participants' level of aerobic activities.
The maximum risk reduction for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality was observed at approximately 30-60 minutes of muscle-strengthening activities per week. The risk of death related to diabetes sharply declined up until 60 minutes a week, after which the risk reduction decreased at a more gradual rate.
The studies included a variety of muscle strengthening activities such as resistance training, strength training, weight training, and calisthenics.
While the study's conclusion focused on the benefits of muscle-strengthening activities, the researchers also found that combined muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities resulted in a 40% lower risk of all-cause mortality. That figure is notably higher than the 10-17% risk reduction that was found regardless of aerobic exercise.
Researchers found that muscle-strengthening activities were associated with a 10-17% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and all-cause mortality. When combined with aerobic activities, there was a 40% reduced risk of all-cause mortality.
Stronger Muscles Make For Stronger Bones
Muscle-strengthening activities are also bone-strengthening activities. When you exert the force necessary to lift weight– be it bodyweight, a dumbbell, or a bag of groceries– that action applies stress to your bones.
As explained in Wolff’s Law, stress signals your body that the impacted bones need to be strong enough to handle the load. Then your bone remodeling process kicks into gear, clearing out any old and damaged bone and increasing bone mass with new, stronger bone cells.
In fact, some of the mortality risk reductions observed in this study could be explained, in part, by improved bone health. By avoiding fractures, participants could remain active and independent which would help them live longer and healthier lives.
Muscle-strengthening activities also strengthen bone by stimulating the bone-remodeling process, per Wolff’s Law of bone formation. That contributes to the life-extending benefits of this form of exercise.
What This Means To You
Include muscle-strengthening activities as part of your bone-building exercise habits. That can include weight lifting or resistance training in your workouts, or regularly engaging in other physical activities that require lifting. As Savers know, those stronger muscles enable you to build more new bone, helping you to prevent or reverse osteoporosis.
If you're not sure where to start, or how to safely intensify your workouts, try SaveTrainer. SaveTrainer is the Save Institute's online platform for workout videos led by professional trainers. No matter what type of activity you're interested in, or what level you're at, there are a variety of options waiting for you in SaveTrainer's extensive collection.
Knowledge is a critical tool for taking effective action. You've got the knowledge, so now you're ready to apply it. Build stronger muscles and stronger bones to stay healthy, independent, and ready to live a long life.