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Aerobic activities and weight training have health benefits on their own, but combining them could have an even greater effect when it comes to preventing disease and the risk of premature death.
People who lifted weights once or twice a week, as well as the recommended amount of aerobic activity, had a 41 percent lower risk of dying prematurely, according to a study published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The research team based their findings on self-reports and health information from nearly 100,000 men and women who participated in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, which began in 1998 and followed the participants until 2016. Participants answered questionnaires in 2006. about their exercise habits in the past year, and the authors of this latest study looked at whether these participants had developed cancer or they had died in 2016.
Older adults who did weight training without any aerobic activity reduced their risk of premature death from any cause by up to 22%, a percentage that depended on the number of times they lifted weights in a week; using weights once or twice a week was associated with a 14% lower risk, and the benefit increased the more times someone lifted weights.
Those who did aerobic exercise reduced their risk by up to 34%, compared to participants who did no weight training or aerobic exercise. But the lowest risk (41% to 47%) was among those who met the recommended weekly amounts of aerobic activity (see below for details) and lifted weights once or twice a week, compared to those who were not active. The authors did not find a lower risk of death from cancer.
Participants’ education, smoking, body mass index, race and ethnicity did not affect the results, but gender did: the associations were more significant among women, the researchers found.
“The results of this study are predictable, but it is significant that the authors provide the expected results as data in the elderly,” said Haruki Momma, a professor in the department of sports and exercise medicine and science at Tohoku University in the Japan by e-mail. The mother did not participate in the study.
“This is one of the most important points of this study,” added the mother. “Prior studies in older adults are limited.”
The findings support the joint benefits of muscle-strengthening activities using weight training along with aerobic activity, in amounts roughly in line with current physical activity guidelines, the authors said.
The World Health Organization recommends that older adults (aged 65 and older) get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week. Aerobic activities include walking, dancing, running or jogging, cycling and swimming.
Muscle-strengthening exercises should be done at least twice a week if possible, according to the guidelines. These can help prevent falls and related injuries, as well as declining bone health and strength.
Weight training exercises you can do for 30 to 60 minutes include deadlifts, dumbbell presses, and dumbbell lateral raises, which involve using your back and shoulder muscles to lift light dumbbells so that your arms and the body form a T shape.
Important note: If you experience pain while exercising, stop immediately. Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
The authors did not have information about the weight training or the specific aerobic exercises the participants were doing.
“As the authors stated, there was no information on training intensity, training load, volume (sets and repetitions),” Mom said. by e-mail. “Therefore, the optimal prescription for regular muscle-strengthening exercise to prevent mortality is unclear. However, this limitation is not limited to this study. Studies on the epidemiology of muscle-strengthening exercise are prone to to this limitation”.
But researchers had some ideas about how any exercise might help prevent disease or early death.
Weight training may improve body composition or lean muscle mass, which has previously been associated with greater protection against premature death from all causes and cardiovascular disease.
Having more lean muscle and less body fat can help balance, posture and regulate cholesterol levels, Dr. Nieca Goldberg told CNN in March. Goldberg, the medical director of Atria in New York and a clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, was not involved in the study.
“We know that people with obesity are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, glucose intolerance and some cancers, so improving that (health) profile is beneficial,” Goldberg said. “People who participate in regular activities … may also have healthier vision and lead other healthy lifestyles.”
The increased benefit of combining the two exercises could be because the two work together to improve health, Dr. William Roberts, a professor in the University of Minnesota’s department of family medicine and community health, told CNN in March. A balanced diet more closely mimics the lifestyles of our ancestors, he added.
In addition, muscle helps the functions of the endocrine and paracrine systems, the authors said, responsible for hormones and cell communication, respectively. Weight training can also be done in social settings, the researchers added, and having social connections has been linked to living longer.
The authors noted that there could be measurement errors associated with participants recalling their exercise habits, and that the study might not be applicable to people of color and younger people, as most of the participants were nonwhite. Hispanic and were 71 years old on average.
The authors said that future studies that are more diverse, longer, and look over time would be beneficial in understanding the relationships between these exercises and the risk of early death.
But for now, older adults who do either exercise should incorporate the other into their daily lives, Mom said.
“Some physical activity is better than none,” said the mother. “Because fitness levels and chronic conditions among older adults vary by (the) individual, please be as physically active as your abilities and conditions allow.”