Health experts have been telling us that muscle-strengthening activities are good for us because they are beneficial to our musculoskeletal health and are connected to a lower risk of death. However, it’s not until just recently that scientists have been able to pinpoint the minimum optimal “dose” of strengthening exercise is needed to reap these benefits.
Thanks to curious researchers in Japan who have done a new global analysis of studies that were conducted over three decades, it’s confirmed that 30 to 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity per week can help reduce the risk of death from any cause by as much as a fifth.
The researchers analyzed a total of 16 studies with minimum monitoring periods of two years, and carried out mostly in the US, with the remaining studies performed in England, Scotland, Australia, and Japan. The studies included participant numbers varying from around 4,000 to 480,000, with participants between the ages of 18 to 97. The earliest study was published in 2012, and the maximum monitoring period was 25 years.
As reported by The Guardian, the analysis found that 30 to 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity (which, according to the UK physical activity guidelines, include weight lifting, bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, carrying heavy shopping bags or laundry baskets, yoga, pilates, tai chi, resistance band training, heavy gardening, pushing a wheelchair, or lifting and carrying children) is linked to a 10 to 20 percent lower risk of death from all causes, and from heart disease and cancer.
The analysis did not factor in aerobic exercise, and there was no conclusive evidence that more than an hour a week of strength training reduced the risk even more. However, the researchers noted that adults who stick to the recommended regime of regularly working all the major muscle groups at least twice per week and combine that with at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week experience the most benefits.
The researchers are still hoping to do more studies that focus on more diverse populations to further “increase the certainty of the evidence,” they said.