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Aerobic activities and weight training have health benefits on their own, but combining them may have an even greater effect when it comes to disease prevention and risk of premature death.
People who lifted weights once or twice a week, in addition to the recommended amount of aerobic activity, had a 41% 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 participants until 2016. Participants answered questionnaires in 2006 about their exercise habits over the past year, and the authors of this latest study checked whether these participants had developed cancer or 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%, depending 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 weights were lifted.
Those who did aerobic exercise reduced their risk by up to 34%, compared to participants who did neither weight training nor aerobic exercise. But the lowest risk, 41 percent to 47 percent, was among those who met the recommended weekly amounts of aerobic activity (see guide below) and lifted weights once or twice a week, compared with those who didn’t. they were active. The authors did not find a lower risk of death from cancer.
Education, smoking, body mass index, race and ethnicity of the participants did not affect the findings, but gender did: The associations were more significant among women, the researchers found.
“The findings of this study are predictable, but it is important that the authors provide the expected results as data in older people,” said Haruki Momma, a professor in the department of medicine and science in sports and exercise at Tohoku University in Japan. via email. Mom did not participate in the study.
“This is one of the most important points of this study,” Momma added. “Previous studies in older adults are limited.”
The findings support the joint benefits of muscle-strengthening activities through weight training along with aerobic activity, in amounts that roughly align with current physical activity guidelines, the authors said.
The World Health Organization recommends that older adults (ages 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, biking, and swimming.
Muscle-strengthening exercises should be done at least twice a week if possible, according to the guidelines. Those can help prevent falls and related injuries, as well as decreased bone health and ability.
Weight training exercises you can do for 30 to 60 minutes include dead lifts, dumbbell overhead presses, and dumbbell lateral raises, which involve using your back and shoulder muscles to lift light dumbbells so that you your arms and body form a T-shape.
Important Note: If you experience pain while exercising, stop immediately. Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
The authors had no information on the specific weight training or aerobic exercises that the participants did.
“As the authors stated, there was no information on training intensity, training load, volume (sets and repetitions),” Momma said. via email. “Therefore, the optimal prescription for regular muscle strengthening exercises to prevent mortality remains unclear. However, this limitation is not limited to this study. Epidemiology studies of muscle-strengthening exercise are prone to this limitation.”
But the researchers had some ideas about how exercise might help prevent disease or early death.
Weight training can improve body composition or lean muscle mass, which has been previously associated with greater protection against premature death from any cause and cardiovascular diseases.
Having more lean muscle and less body fat can help with balance, posture and regulating cholesterol levels, Dr. Nieca Goldberg told CNN in March. Goldberg, medical director of Atria New York City and an associate clinical professor of medicine at New York University Grossman School of Medicine, was not involved in the study.
“We know that people with obesity are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, glucose intolerance and some types of cancer, so improving that (health) profile is beneficial,” Goldberg said. “People who participate in regular activities … can also have a healthier outlook and have other healthy lifestyles.”
The biggest benefit of combining both exercises could be because the two work together to improve health, Dr. William Roberts, a professor in the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Minnesota, told CNN in March. A balanced diet more closely mimics the lifestyles of our ancestors, he added.
In addition, the muscle helps the functions of the endocrine and paracrine systems, said the authors, those responsible for hormones other cellular communication, respectively. Weight training could also be done in social settings, the researchers added, and having social connections has been linked to living longer.
The authors noted that there might be measurement errors associated with participants recalling their exercise habits, and that the study might not be applicable to people of color and younger, since most participants were non-Hispanic white and had a average age of 71 years.
Future studies that are more diverse, longer, and attentive over time would be beneficial in understanding the relationships between these exercises and the risk of premature death, the authors said.
But for now, older adults who do either exercise should incorporate the other into their daily lives, Momma said.
“Some physical activity is better than none at all,” Mom said. “Because fitness levels and chronic conditions among the elderly vary with (the) individual, be as physically active as your abilities and conditions allow.”