Lifting weights for building muscle mass and strength has many health advantages. But, there’s one more advantage to add to this list: One hour of strength training each week can extend your life.
This news comes from Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai, Miyagi, Japan. Researchers have found that lifting weights or performing muscle-strengthening activities 30 to 60 minutes a week, may reduce early death by 20% from diabetes, cancer, or heart and blood vessel diseases.
The strengthening exercises mentioned explicitly in the study included lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing pushups, sit-ups, and squats – even activities like digging and shoveling in a garden count.
One of the study researchers, Dr. Haruki Momma, paraphrased, “Recommendations from physical activity guidelines advise adults to add weight training for better musculoskeletal health benefits. But the findings from this study also support advising adults to do strength training to prevent the development of major chronic diseases and premature death.”
The scientists with the study gathered data from 16 published studies that included both men and women. These 16 studies ranged from almost 4,000 study participants to nearly 480,000 participants. The analysis showed that individuals who participated in muscle strengthening, had a 10% to 17% lower risk of premature death, including stroke, diabetes, lung cancer, and heart and blood vessel diseases. Cancers not shown to have a reduced risk included pancreatic, kidney, colon, and bladder.
Another significant finding was it took one hour a week to see the best benefits from lifting weights. However, continuing to lift more than an hour a week appeared to have no additional benefits of reducing premature death.
The best way to get improved protection from dying prematurely was to combine strength training with aerobic exercises, like brisk walking, swimming, cycling, and rowing. In this scenario, premature death was more than double that of only doing strength training by itself. The combo of strength training and aerobic exercise, jumped to 40% of reducing premature death of any cause, 46% from heart and blood vessel disease, and cancer by 28%.
Incorporating strength training as part of a workout regimen is a smart idea, and it’s never too late to begin. Using weights or performing weight-bearing exercises (walking, dancing, stair climbing, etc.) can have significant health advantages such as:
- Increasing testosterone in men
- Maintaining bone density reduces the risk of falls and fractures
- Improving both mental health and mood
As with any workout regimen, start slowly as lifting too heavy of weights too quickly can lead to overuse and injury when not done correctly.
While undoing the damage from chronic disease is not always possible, there are still benefits individuals can gain from a simple strength training program. Whether it’s more robust, having more energy, or simply an improved frame of mind, it’s worth the time and effort for a better quality of life.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.