In the recipe to live longer and better there are three essential ingredients: a balanced diet, enough sleep and exercise. This last habit is perhaps one of the most difficult to comply with. And many times we don’t even know where to start. What is the best activity? Now, a study published in the ‘British Journal of Sports Medicine’ suggests that the regular exercise with weights is associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, with the exception of cancer. But if, in addition to weights, the weekly exercise routine includes aerobic activities, the effect is even greater.
Current physical activity guidelines for all adults recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equal combination of the two, often referred to as MVPA. moderate to vigorous).
All adults are also encouraged to incorporate activities that work all major muscle groups. However, while aerobic exercise is consistently associated with a lower risk of death, it’s not clear whether exercising with weights might have similar effects.
In an attempt to find out, the researchers set out to assess separately and together the potential impact of weight-bearing exercise and aerobic activities on the risk of death among older adults. They did this based on participant data from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer (PLCO) Screening Trial, which began in 1993 and includes 154,897 men and women ages 55 to 74 from 10 centers. different oncologists in the United States.
In 2006, 104,002 of the participants were also asked whether they had exercised with weights in the past year and, if so, how often they had done so: from less than once a month to several times a week. And they were surveyed about the frequency and duration of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity physical activity in the past year.
Moderate intensity was described as ‘activity in which you broke a little sweat or increased your heart and breathing rates to moderately high levels’ and vigorous activity as ‘activity strenuous enough to break a sweat or increased your heart and breathing rates to very high levels’ ‘.
Four groups of activity were generated based on total weekly MVPA minutes: (1) inactive, 0 minutes; (2) insufficient aerobic MVPA, 1-149 minutes; (3) enough, more than 150 minutes of moderate activity or an equivalent amount of vigorous activity; and (4) very active, 301 or more minutes of moderate activity or an equivalent amount of vigorous activity.
In total, responses from 99,713 people were included in the final analysis, 28,477 of whom died during an average of 9.5 years of follow-up. Their mean age at the start of the follow-up period was 71 years and their mean BMI was 27.8 kg/m2, which is defined as overweight.
Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) of those surveyed reported engaging in some weight-bearing activity, with 16% saying they regularly exercised with weights between one and six times a week. Almost a third (32%) were aerobically active enough, meeting or exceeding the MVPA guidelines.
Weight-bearing exercise and aerobic physical activity were independently associated with a lower risk of death from any causeas well as cardiovascular disease, but not cancer.
Overall, exercising with weights without aerobic activity was associated with a 9-22% lower risk of death, depending on the amount. Specifically, using weights once or twice a week was associated with a 14% lower risk.
Similarly, among those who did not exercise with weights, aerobic activity was associated with a 24% to 34% lower risk of death from any cause, compared with those who did not exercise at all. But the lowest risk of death was seen among those who said they did both types of physical activity.
For example, the risk of death was 41% to 47% lower among those who said they met the most recommended weekly levels of aerobic activity and exercised with weights once or twice a week versus those who were physically inactive.
Education level, smoking status, BMI, race and ethnicity did not significantly change the observed associations, but gender did: associations were stronger in women.
The study, which is observational and cannot establish cause, has some limitations such as the data is based on personal recollection and is from a single point in time. Specific details about training intensity, training load, volume (sets and repetitions), and how long the participants had been exercising with weights were not available, all of which may have influenced the findings.
The study focused only on weights, but there are other types of muscle-strengthening exercises, the researchers note, such as calisthenics, which includes push-ups and squats; pilates; and plyometric exercises, including jumping jacks and burpees.
Using weights can make a body slimmer. Total lean mass is independently associated with a lower risk of death, the researchers say in explanation of their findings. And doing it in a gym also promotes sociability, another factor linked to a longer, healthier life .
“Our finding that mortality risk appeared to be lower for those who participated in both types of exercise provides strong support for current recommendations to participate in aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Older adults would likely benefit from adding weight-bearing exercises to their physical activity routines,” the researchers conclude.