Muscle Strengthening and longevity
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How many times have we been told to get regular exercise? My first source was Grandma, who lectured me about turning off the TV and going out to play. I even sometimes listened. And today, regular exercise is a daily endeavor for me. I must reach those 10,000 steps. I think I am a bit obsessed. A new scientific report shows that if you are over 40, adding 10 minutes of exercise to your day increases your life expectancy. Wow, we know exercise is good for us, but what a blow to the couch potatoes among us! We have known for some time about the public health crisis due to physical inactivity brought on by our media-friendly and work-focused lifestyles.

A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that this modest increase in exercise could have saved the lives of over 100,000 people between the ages of 40 and 85 each year. Adding an additional 20-30 minutes of exercise would save even more lives. These results are based on a large dataset- the scientists used a large population study called the National Health and Nutrition Examination.

Another recent study from Japan goes deeper into the benefits of muscle strengthening, also called resistance training. The World Health Organization has a set of recommendations that says adults should engage in muscle strengthening activities at least twice a week. We know that resistance training improves or maintains skeletal muscle strength, but now we know that it makes you healthier and extends your life as well.

This work looked at 16 separate studies of people over 18 years old for the effects of muscle strengthening activities, the incidence of non-communicable disease and the risk of death. The activities were evaluated independent of aerobic exercise like running, walking or biking. The results they uncovered were significant. People who exercised by strengthening their muscles had up to 17% lower rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and lung disease. That will get most people's attention. However, it did not reduce the rates of every type of disease. For example, there was no reduction in site-specific diseases like pancreatic, colon, kidney or bladder cancer.

In terms of overall mortality, total cancer risk and cardiovascular disease, the risk reduction was capped at 30 to 60 minutes of activity per week. This study establishes a plateau where more exercise does not provide additional benefit. For diabetes, 60 minutes of resistance training per week had the largest risk reduction. Clearly, muscle-strengthening training is an important element for maintaining health and enhancing longevity. Not matter how you view this, grandma was right: exercise is good for you.

The study also considered the impact of combining muscle strengthening and aerobic exercise. Maybe not surprisingly, the combination lowered the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease and total cancer mortality. These results were compared to individuals with no exercise activity.

So, fire up your Fitbit and get out on the trail or pump some iron, and you will reap the health rewards and live longer!

For more information…

People Who Do Strength Training Live Longer - and Better
A consensus is building among experts that both strength training and cardio? are important for longevity...

7 Reasons Why Strength Training Is Key to a Long Life
In just one hour a week, you can change your health and increase your longevity...

Muscle-strengthening activities are associated with lower risk and mortality in major non-communicable diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies
Physical inactivity is a global public health problem. Several national and international physical activity guidelines recommend regular muscle-strengthening activities for adults...