Lifting weights makes you live longer

Posted by Dayne Hudson in Muscle Building

Estimated reading time: 5mins

Lifting weights makes you live longer
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Lift weights to live longer

This research reviewed a whole group of science papers that examined the relationship between resistance training and all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality. Only studies conducted among non-clinical adult populations who were over 18 years were included.

Ten studies were ultimately selected. So, what did they find?

  • Compared with undertaking no resistance training, undertaking any amount of resistance training reduced the risk of all-cause mortality by 15%
  • Reduced cardiovascular disease mortality by 19%
  • Reduced cancer mortality by 14%

And before you grab your gym bag and head out – the researchers also found that a maximum risk reduction of 27% was observed at around 60 minutes per week of resistance training.

That’s an incredible statistic! It ought to be plastered on the wall of every gym.

I’ll also mention out of the ten studies, only four found that MORE resistance training wasn’t better. For example, doing 2 hours instead of one isn’t superior.

The researchers said this is the strongest evidence to date that resistance training is:

“...associated with reduced risk of all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer-specific mortality. More research is needed to determine whether any potential mortality benefits gained from resistance training diminish at higher volumes.”

So, add potentially a longer life to your list of resistance training benefits!

We await more research to discover the threshold for resistance training and longer life. It might be that after 90 minutes we reach a point of diminishing returns, like what researchers have found with running.

Running for longer life – the threshold

This observational study tracked over 52,000 people for 30 years and found the positive effects of running diminished among people who did more than 32 kilometres per week, more than six days a week, or faster than 12.9 kilometres per hour.

The ideal amount was found to be 8 kilometres to 30 kilometres per week, at 9-11 kilometres per hour, spread throughout three to four sessions per week.

The runners who stuck to these guidelines saw the greatest health benefits: their risk of death dropped by 25 per cent.

Another observational study found weekly running for less than 51 minutes and less than 9.6 kilometres, 1-2 times at less than 9.66 km/h, was sufficient to reduce the risk of mortality, compared with not running.

And compared with non-runners, runners had 30% and 45% lower adjusted risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a 3-year life expectancy benefit.

Amazingly, even 5-10 minutes of running per day at less than 9.6 kilometres was linked to reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease.

So, if we’re not overdoing it, we’re actually extending our life span by running, too. Any more than this is actually detrimental to the male aorta; aging it by up to ten years. However, the same isn’t seen in women.

But back to resistance training, and it might not just help extend our life span but improve the quality of our later years, too.

Researchers have found the upper threshold for weekly running and a longer life.
Researchers have found the upper threshold for weekly running and a longer life.

Resistance training and sarcopenia

Starting as early as our 40s, we're at risk of developing sarcopenia; loss of muscle tissue and function. This makes things as simple as walking difficult.

But we can combat muscle wastage with resistance training.

And for the elderly, the best way to bolster muscle tissue and strength in the elderly is with progressive resistance training. 

Although, cycling and even dancing can help, too!

And aerobic training (running) is only a minor solution to sarcopenia long-term, so it's recommended we include resistance training weekly!

No matter how old you are, it's best to get into the habit of resistance training as early as you can; fighting sarcopenia when it has already settled in is a lot harder.

Another benefit is resistance training's effect on bone density. Stronger bones will assist in a better quality of life!

Resistance training helps to combat muscle wastage
Resistance training helps to combat muscle wastage

Weight lifting will help us stress less, too

FACT: Exercise helps us deal with stress better.

In the modern digital era, some of us have seen our working hours increase which can exacerbate stress.

And research has found exercise to create less stress in many populations; as extreme as veterans suffering from PTSD, athletes, and the aforementioned everyday person.

Scientists also report that those who exercise regularly experience fewer daily hassles.

Stress less by performing resistance training.
Stress less by performing resistance training.

In summary, this new study into resistance training and longevity

Finds a positive correlation. Compared with undertaking no resistance training, pumping iron reduces the risk of all-cause mortality by 15%, cardiovascular disease mortality by 19%, and cancer mortality by 14%.

A maximum risk reduction was observed at around 60 minutes per week of resistance training. More research is needed to determine whether any potential mortality benefits gained from resistance training diminish at higher volumes.

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