Evidence mounts on the benefits of strength training

A recent meta-analysis found that people who do muscle-strengthening workouts are less likely to die prematurely than those who don’t, adding to previous evidence that strength training has long-term health benefits.

The study found that just 30 to 60 minutes a week of strength training may be enough. Those who worked out for this duration had a 10% to 20% lower risk of dying during the study period from all causes, and from cancer and heart disease specifically, compared to those who did no strength training. The benefits plateaued after one hour, and decreased after two hours.

U.S. exercise guidelines recommend that adults do strength training for all major muscle groups twice a week. This can be accomplished through a variety of workouts, including weightlifting, exercises like push-ups and sit-ups, and some types of yoga.

The current guidelines don’t specify how long muscle-strengthening workouts should be, but more research is needed before revising the guidelines to include time-specific goals, said I-Min Lee, professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a March 14, 2022  Everyday Health article. However, Lee, who was not involved with the new study, added that two 30-minute strength workouts per week would fit the guidelines if all major muscle groups were targeted.

She explained that muscle-strengthening exercises are beneficial because they lead to better physical functioning. “Such exercises also improve glucose metabolism, enhance maintenance of healthy body weight, and help improve cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure,” she said. “All these factors lead to lower risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, which lowers mortality risk.”

Read the Everyday Health article: More Evidence That Strength Training Boosts Long-Term Health