Lifting weights regularly can reduce people’s risk of premature death, a study found.
The researchers said the greatest benefits were obtained from a combination of weekly “pumping iron” and aerobic exercise.
Academics at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, examined data on nearly 100,000 adults who participated in the US screening study.
Participants, with an average age of 71, provided information about their weightlifting activities and any other sports they played.
About 23% reported any weightlifting activity, and 16% reported doing regular weightlifting at least 1 to 6 times per week.
The researchers considered almost a third (32 percent) to be “active enough,” with 24 percent meeting cardio guidelines and 8 percent exceeding them.
During the 9.6-year follow-up period, 28,477 participants died.
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that adults who reported any weightlifting had a 9% lower “risk of death from any cause”.
Similar observations were found for heart disease deaths, but no link was found between weightlifting and cancer deaths.
Those who participated in “regular” weightlifting were found to have a 14% lower risk of death, while those who achieved aerobic activity levels had a 32% lower risk of death.
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During the study period, adults who reported meeting aerobic exercise guidelines and lifting weights at least once or twice a week had a 41% to 47% lower risk of death.
“Weightlifting in older adults is independently associated with lower all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality,” the authors wrote.
“Among adults who did not report aerobic MVPA (moderate to vigorous physical activity), any weightlifting was associated with a 9-22% reduction in all-cause mortality.
“Lower all-cause mortality was observed in older adults who did either aerobic or weightlifting, but the lowest mortality was observed in adults who reported both types of exercise.
“The weightlifting-related mortality benefit shown here provides clinicians and other health professionals with preliminary evidence that older adults may benefit from adding weightlifting to their physical activity.”
Adults are urged to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week.
They are also encouraged to perform “strengthening exercises” for the legs, buttocks, back, abs, chest, shoulders and arms at least two days a week.