Muscle-Strengthening Exercises Linked to a Lower Death Risk

muscle strengthening
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A systematic review of 16 different studies looked at the link between muscle-strengthening exercises and the overall death risk.

Good news for gym-goers, all that weightlifting is not only making your muscles bigger but also helping you live longer. According to a study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine, 30 to 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening exercises every week can lead to a 10-17% lower death risk. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults perform muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. These include weightlifting, working with resistance bands, and other forms of resistance training. Although previous studies have found a link between muscle-strengthening activities and lower mortality, the exact duration of these exercises remain unclear. Now, for the first time, researchers have conducted a systematic review of multiple studies comprising of adults that underwent monitoring for at least 2 years.

As part of their review, the study authors analyzed 16 studies; the earliest dating to 2012. The participants ranged in age from 18 to 97 years and included both men and women. Moreover, all studies included aerobic or other physical activity, along with muscle-strengthening activities.

Build Muscles, Live Longer

According to the results, muscle strengthening led to a 10-17% lower risk of all-cause mortality, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and lung cancer. However, no association was present for a lower risk of specific cancers, including those of kidney, bladder, colon, or pancreas. Furthermore, the analysis revealed the greatest risk reduction at the 60 minutes per week mark. Therefore, the study authors concluded that 30-60 minutes/week of muscle-strengthening exercise caused the maximum reduction in death risk.

The combination of muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities may provide a greater benefit for reducing all-cause, CVD and total cancer mortality.

study authors

A joint analysis of aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening activity also revealed a reduced risk of death from any cause. The risk of death from heart diseases was 46% lower, 28% lower risk from cancer, and 40% lower risk of death from any cause.

However, the results come with a few limitations. The studies used for the review were observational studies and not clinical trials. Furthermore, since a majority of the participants belonged to the U.S., results are not widely applicable. It is important to note, that the risk of death depends on a wide variety of factors ranging from one’s genetic makeup to their diet. All of which was not taken into consideration in the studies.


Muscle-strengthening activities are associated with lower risk and mortality in major non-communicable diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies, British Journal of Sports Medicine (2022). DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-105061


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