New Study: More Muscle-Strengthening Exercise Extends Life, Even in Elderly

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A new study published Monday found that adults who did more muscle-strengthening exercise in a week had a lower risk of death for any reason than adults who did strength training less than those who did not. 

According to the study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open and as reported by CNN, the results applied to all ages groups, even the most elderly.

Physical activity guidelines for older adults stress doing at least two days of strength training and 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity each week. Yet many people downplay muscle strengthening, relying on the heart-pumping benefits of aerobic exercise. That would be a mistake, according to the study's results.

Independent of aerobic physical activity, adults over 65 who did strength training two to six times per week lived longer than those who did less than two, 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 mortality in older adults,” Webber said in an email, CNN reported. “Those who met the muscle-strengthening guideline only (versus neither guideline) had (a) 10% lower risk of mortality, those who met the aerobic guideline only had 24% lower risk of mortality, and those who met both guidelines had 30% lower risk,” he said.

Peope who were 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 those who met neither of the guidelines, the study found.

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

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