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Strength training and reduced risk of premature death

In the modern world, where the demands of everyday life are increasingly intense, taking time to take care of our health has become crucial. Recent scientific evidence reinforces what strength training enthusiasts already knew: even a modest investment of just 30 to 60 minutes a week of strength training can have a profound impact on our long-term health. An eye-opening study revealed that this small time commitment could be the key to significantly reducing your risk of premature death.

This finding, which could be a real watershed in the way we view our health, highlights the transformative power of strength training. It's not just about building muscles and increasing physical resistance, but also about strengthening our body against serious illnesses in modern society. This new knowledge not only validates the importance of strength training, but also inspires us to rethink our priorities and longevity of life.

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Strength training and muscular and neuronal plasticity

Physical inactivity represents a serious public health problem on a global scale. Several national and international physical activity guidelines recommend regular practice of muscle-strengthening activities for adults. For example, recent guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACMS) suggest that adults should perform muscular strength activities at least two days a week._11100000-0000 -0000-0000-000000000111_

Regular engagement in such activities as resistance training contributes to the increase or preservation of skeletal muscle strength. Maintaining this muscle strength has been shown to be related to a decrease in mortality and the risk of non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Despite this, when we talk about muscle mass it is necessary to highlight the person's independence in lifting and exercising their physical freedom. 

Certainly, promoting muscle-strengthening activities can play a significant role in reducing the risk of premature death. On the other hand, compared to aerobic activities, strength training has been less explored regarding its impact on preventing death.

Strength training in Literature

The recent study Muscle-strengthening activities are associated with lower risk and mortality in major non-communicable diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies,published in July 2022 in theBritish Journal of Sports Medicine,arrived to reinforce the importance of strength training and muscle reserve with data indicating that the range of 30 to 60 minutes of strength training per week is associated to the greatest benefits in terms of longevity before reaching a point of stagnation and muscle decline.

The study analyzed data to gain insight into how strengthening and aerobic exercise can influence longevity and risk of death. Many of these smaller studies followed participants for several decades to assess how physical activity influenced their life expectancy. Studies ranged in size from approximately 3,800 to 478,000 participants, ages 18 to 98.

Participants who performed any type or amount of muscle-strengthening exercise had a 15% lower risk of premature death from all causes. Weight training was associated with a 10 to 17% reduction in the risk of premature death due to diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Strength training interval

However, a longer weight training load did not necessarily lead to the greatest benefit. The researchers found that the greatest benefit—a 10 to 20 percent reduction in the risk of premature death from all causes, as well as from cancer and heart disease specifically—occurred when people performed approximately 30 to 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening exercises per day. week. After that first hour, there was a small benefit with about an additional hour per week. However, beyond two hours, more weight training per week was actually associated with an increased likelihood of an early death.

Maximizing strength training

It is important to emphasize that the study is not intended to discourage frequent strength training. It is clear that by training muscle groups regularly, providing adequate rest, maintaining a balanced diet and staying hydrated, the results in terms of increased muscle mass can be significantly greater compared to practicing just 30 to 60 minutes per week. .

The research offers valuable insight into the association between strength training and longevity, but should not be interpreted as a reason to reduce training frequency. Instead, she highlights the importance of finding a balance between strength training and adequate rest to optimize the benefits of physical activity.

Take home message

The decline in muscle mass as we age is a significant challenge that can have direct implications for the quality of life and independence of older people. The fragility resulting from this decline often translates into greater dependence on care, leading, in some cases, to the need to be bedridden. Furthermore, in our office, it is common to deal with patients who face complex conditions, such as the combination of obesity and sarcopenia, a condition in which the loss of muscle mass is accentuated.

A practical example of the importance of muscle mass is the ability of a patient to get up from a chair on their own. It seems like a simple task, but in fact, it is entirely dependent on the amount of muscle mass a person has. Therefore, it is essential to recognize that strength training plays a fundamental role in stimulating the mTor pathway, fundamental in muscle hypertrophy, promoting the growth and maintenance of muscle mass effectively.

The critical message we must assimilate is that muscles are not just a matter of aesthetics. They are essential for daily functionality. Strength training is not just about achieving a sculpted appearance, it is about ensuring that our physical capacity is preserved over time. Therefore, it is a valuable tool in promoting independence and quality of life, not just for the elderly, but for all of us, at all stages of life.

In short, strength training should not be underestimated. It plays a vital role in preventing muscle mass decline and preventing various causes of death. Muscle mass promotes independence, and thus reduces dependence on care as we age. Furthermore, it is an effective tool for dealing with complex medical conditions such as the combination of obesity and sarcopenia. Therefore, the message is clear: muscle strength is not just a question of aesthetics, but a question of functionality, today and throughout life.


MOMMA, Haruki; KAWAKAMI, Ryoko; HONDA, Takanori; SAWADA, Susumu s. 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, [S.L.], v. 56, n. 13, p. 755-763, 28 Feb. 2022. BMJ.

Suggested reading: Sarcopenia

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