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Build muscle and a longer life in just 30-60 minutes a week

Woman doing resistance band training at home

Muscle-strengthening exercises aren’t just good for getting great guns. Done regularly, they may also help lower your risk of premature death, according to a new study.

Japanese researchers have found engaging in 30-60 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity per week is associated with a 10-20 per cent lower risk of premature death from all causes, and cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers, in particular.

The research, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, goes further than previous studies that show the benefit of muscle strengthening for life expectancy, by providing an optimal amount of time to engage in strengthening exercise.

The researchers found no evidence doing more than 60 minutes, weekly, of muscle-strengthening resulted in further risk reduction, so 30-60 minutes should be adequate.

Study limitations

This was a meta-analysis using data from 16 studies, largely from North America or western Europe, to look at longevity, disease risk and resistance (strengthening) exercise.

The number of participants was large, ranging from 4000-480,000, depending on the study. But only a few studies were pooled for each of the outcomes and some studies relied on self-reporting, which can be unreliable, the researchers say.

The findings support recommendations from most health authorities to engage in muscle-strengthening activities at least two times a week, as well as around 2 ½ hours of moderate or 1 ¼ hour of vigorous physical activity.

What are muscle-strengthening exercises?

A strengthening exercise is anything that makes your muscles work harder than usual. They can include resistance training and bodyweight exercises.

Finding muscle-strengthening activities you enjoy, makes it easier to make sure you do them regularly. Here are some examples to choose from:

  • hillwalking or stair climbing
  • lifting weights
  • resistance band exercises
  • bodyweight exercise (yoga, squats, plank, push-ups, sit-ups…)
  • heavy gardening such as digging and shifting heavy loads
  • dancing

Download these strengthening exercises to do at home

First published: Mar 2022

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