A study of older persons discovered that regular weight-training exercise is associated with a decreased risk of mortality from any cause, except cancer.
According to the studies, sticking to a weekly training routine that incorporates both weights and aerobic activity has an added advantage. The study’s findings were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine online.
Current physical activity guidelines prescribe at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, or an equivalent mix of the two (known as MVPA) for all persons (moderate to vigorous physical activity).
All adults should also integrate activities that work all of the major muscle groups. While aerobic exercise has been linked to a decreased risk of mortality, it is uncertain if weight training has the same effect.
To overcome this information gap, the researchers set out to investigate the potential impact of weight training and aerobic exercise on the risk of mortality in older people, both independently and in combination.
They selected participants from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO). This research, which began in 1993, includes 154,897 men and women aged 55 to 74 from 10 different cancer centres in the United States.
In 2006, 104,002 people were asked if they had exercised with weights in the preceding year, and if so, how frequently—anywhere from once a month to several times a week.
They were also polled on their frequency and duration of moderate and extreme intensity physical exercise throughout the preceding year.
Severe activity was defined as “exercise that produced a heavy perspiration or raised your breathing and heart rate to very high levels.” Moderate activity was defined as “exercise that produced a light sweat or raised your breathing and heart rate to moderately high levels,” while moderate activity was defined as “exercise that produced a heavy perspiration or raised your breathing and heart rate to moderately high levels.”
Four activity groups were formed based on total weekly minutes of MVPA: (1) inactive, 0 minutes; (2) insufficient aerobic MVPA, 1-149 minutes; (3) sufficient, 150+ minutes of moderate, or equivalently vigorous, activity; and (4) highly active, 301 or more minutes of moderate, or equivalently vigorous, activity.
The final research included 99,713 replies, with 28,477 deaths occurring over an average of 912 years of monitoring. At the start of the monitoring period, their average age was 71, and their average body mass index (BMI) was 27.8 kg/m2, suggesting that they were overweight.
Almost one-quarter (23%) of respondents said they did some weightlifting, and 16% said they worked out with weights one to six times per week.
Nearly one-third (32%) were sufficiently aerobically active, meeting (24%) or above (8%) MVPA standards.
Weight training and aerobic MVPA were both linked to a decreased risk of mortality from any cause, as well as heart disease, but not cancer.
Working out with weights was associated with a 9-22% reduced risk of mortality in the absence of MVPA, depending on the amount: using weights once or twice a week, for example, was associated with a 14% lower risk.
Similarly, aerobic MVPA was connected to a 24-34% lower risk of mortality from any cause among those who did not exercise with weights, compared to those who reported neither MVPA nor weight training.
Those who reported practising both forms of physical exercise, on the other hand, had the lowest chance of dying.
Those who reported meeting the necessary weekly levels of MVPA and exercising with weights once or twice a week, for example, had a 41-47% reduced risk of mortality than those who were physically inactive.
Educational attainment, smoking, BMI, race, and ethnicity had no influence on the observed connections, but gender did: women had stronger links.
This is an observational research, therefore no causation can be established, and it is based on personal memory and data from a single point in time.
There were no specifics on training intensity, training load, volume (sets and repetitions), or how long individuals had been lifting weights, which might have impacted the results.
The researchers included callisthenics (push-ups and squats), Pilates, and plyometric activities (tuck jumps and burpees) as alternative forms of muscle building workouts in their study.
Weight training can aid in weight loss: total lean mass is independently associated with a decreased risk of mortality, according to the researchers as an explanation for their findings. And, if done in a gym, it may be highly sociable—yet another factor associated with having a longer, healthier life.
“Our finding that people who did both forms of exercise had the lowest mortality risk gives good support for current recommendations to do both aerobic and muscle-strengthening workouts,” they write.
“Older folks would undoubtedly benefit from adding weightlifting activities to their physical activity programmes,” they conclude.