Do 30 to 60 Minutes of Strength Training a Week to Help Lower Your Risk of Disease, Research Suggests
Getting up and moving every day is one of the healthiest gifts you can give yourself. If you can't go long without some heart-pumping activity, like tending to the garden, taking a daily walk with the dog, jumping rope, playing pickleball, or sweating hard in a dance or spin class, you're doing wonders for your brain, body, and overall health (keep it up!).
And a great way to build on the incredible health benefits of your existing exercise routine is to (slowly and safely) add some weights or resistance bands into the mix, even just a few times per week. This helps you develop strength and stability in the short term, but it's also a game-changing way to help protect yourself against disease and live a longer, healthier life.
A 2022 systemic review and meta-analysis of 16 studies, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that doing muscle-strengthening activities, such as lifting weights or using resistance bands, was associated with a "10 to 17 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, total cancer [mortality], diabetes, and lung cancer."
But overall, according to the research results, incorporating 30 to 60 minutes of weight-lifting or other strength-building activities per week (without any cardio exercise) has a clear and positive link to lower all-cause mortality, heart diseases, and total cancer [mortality]. This could include longer strengthening sessions a few times per week or just 5 to 10 minutes' worth each day. Researchers found that a solid 60 minutes of strength training is optimal for reducing diabetes risk. The researchers do note that the data are still limited and further studies are needed in order to be certain of the evidence, and provide a clearer prescription for exactly how much and what kinds of strength training provide what exact disease-risk-reduction benefits.
The review also found evidence that engaging in aerobic exercise (think: swimming, jogging, walking, biking) and getting your weekly 30 to 60 minutes of strength training can improve these disease-preventing benefits even more, resulting in a 40 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 46 percent lower risk of heart disease, a 28 percent lower risk of dying from cancer.
Whether you add kettlebells to your squat routine, tack another few pounds onto your favorite weight machine at the gym, or order a set of resistance bands to use at home, building musculoskeletal strength, and especially building lean muscle tissue, is an integral part of improving balance, maintaining a healthy metabolism, and preventing injury and disease.
But be safe! If you've never lifted weights before, always start slow and light, focus on form (this is crucial for avoiding injuries), and listen to your body. It's smart to learn proper form and progression tips from a credible fitness instructor, so sign up for a beginner session or two with a trainer, follow an online workout video, or even talk to your doctor about the safest way to get started.