New research reminds older adults to integrate strength training into their exercise regimens: The workouts result in a longer lifespan when combined with aerobic exercise.
According to current physical health guidelines outlined by the US Department of Health and Human Services, adults should do at least two days of strength training and two and a half hours of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity each week.
But, while most people are aware of the health benefits associated with regular exercise, researchers recently focused their attention on the improved health associated specifically with strength training. They found that those 65 and older who did strength training two to six times per week lived longer than those who did less than two.
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, told CNN, “each type of physical activity was independently associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality in older adults”.
When adults met the muscle-strengthening guideline, which focuses on exercises that increase skeletal muscle strength, power, endurance and mass, researchers found that they had a 10 per cent lower risk of mortality, while those “who met the aerobic guideline only had 24 per cent lower risk of mortality”.
Dr Webber says those who “met both guidelines had 30 per cent lower risk”.
The findings, which were published Monday in the journal JAMA Network Open, apply to all age groups, including the elderly. The study found that people 85 and older who fulfilled both exercise recommendations had “a 28 per cent lower risk of dying from any cause than people over 85 those who met neither of the guidelines”.
“This finding suggests that aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity is valuable throughout the lifespan,” Webber told CNN.
To analsye the importance of physical activity as we age, researchers looked at data gathered by the National Health Interview Survey. The study then compared exercise activity by age group to deaths over an average of eight years. The study adjusted for sex, age, race and ethnicity, education, marital status, body mass index, smoking, alcohol consumption, and baseline presence of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma.
While fulfilling the recommended guideline for strength training resulted in a “lower risk of death for any reason than adults who did strength training less than twice weekly,” researchers also found that additional strength training each week did not offer additional protection.
Through the study, researchers ultimately concluded that the current health guidelines are important for adults of all ages, including those 85 and older.