Live longer by adding strength training to your workout

Editor’s Note: Sign up for CNN’s Fitness, But Better series of newsletters. Our seven-part guide will help you adopt a healthy routine, backed by experts.


Physical activity guidelines for older adults emphasize doing at least two days of strength training and 2½ hours of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity per week. Still, many people downplay muscle strengthening and rely on the heartwarming benefits of aerobic exercise.

That would be a mistake, a new study found. Independent of aerobic physical activity, people over 65 who did strength training two to six times a week lived longer than those who did less than twice, according to study author Dr. Bryant Webber, an epidemiologist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We found that each type of physical activity was independently associated with a lower risk of all-cause death in older adults,” Webber said in an email.

“Those who met the muscle-strengthening guideline alone (versus neither guideline) had (a) a 10% lower risk of death, those meeting the aerobic guideline had only a 24% lower risk of death, and those meeting both guidelines had 30% less risk,” he says.

The results applied to all age groups, even the oldest, according to the study published Monday in the journal JAMA Network Open.

People aged 85 and older who met both the aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines had a 28% lower risk of dying from any cause than people over 85 who met none of the guidelines, the study found.

“This finding suggests that aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity is valuable throughout life,” Webber said.

Strength training and aerobic exercise are beneficial at any age.

The study looked at leisure time and other physical activity collected by the National Health Interview Survey, an ongoing U.S. health survey conducted by the CDC. Information on strength training and aerobic activity by age group was then compared with deaths over an average period of eight years.

The study controlled for demographics and marital status, body mass index, history of smoking or alcohol use, and the presence of asthma, cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, hypertension and stroke.

Looking only at the strength training data, the study found that adults who did two to three sessions or four to six sessions of muscle-strengthening exercises per week had a lower risk of death for any reason than adults who did less than twice a week. did strength training.

Doing more was not beneficial – the study found seven to 28 sessions strength training weekly offered no additional protection.

You don’t have to go to a gym to strengthen your muscles, the CDC said. You can lift weights at home, work with resistance bands, use your body weight for resistance (for example, push-ups and sit-ups), and dig or kick in the yard. Even “lifting canned goods can be considered a muscle-strengthening activity,” Webber said.

The goal is to train all major muscle groups of the body: abdomen, arms, back, chest, hips, legs and shoulders.

Looking only at the data on aerobic exercise, the study found that doing 10 to 300 minutes per week was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause compared to less than 10 minutes per week.

Aerobic activity can include walking, cycling, hiking, raking leaves and pushing a lawnmower and water exercises, just to name a few.

Leave a Comment