A recent study highlights the importance of strength training for elderly adults: When paired with aerobic exercise, the routines extend life expectancy.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that individuals engage in at least 2.5 hours of moderate to strenuous aerobic physical activity each week in addition to 2 days of strength training.
While it's common knowledge that exercising regularly has positive effects on health, experts have just lately begun to examine the perks of strength training in particular. Two to six sessions of strength training per week were associated with a longer lifespan in those 65 and older.
For older persons, "each type of physical exercise was individually related with a lower risk of all-cause mortality," Dr. Bryant Webber, an epidemiology in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN.
Adults who followed the muscle-strengthening guideline, which focuses on workouts that enhance skeletal muscular strength, power, endurance, and mass, had a 10% lower risk of mortality compared to those "who met the aerobic guideline only had 24 % lower risk of mortality."
Those who "met both standards had 30% decreased risk," as stated by Dr. Webber.
Results published online Monday in JAMA Network Open are relevant across the lifespan, particularly in the elderly. Compared to those over the age of 85 who didn't exercise at all, those who did had "a 28 per cent decreased risk of dying from any cause," the study concluded.
According to Webber's interview with CNN, "this data shows that aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity is useful throughout the lifespan."
Data from the National Health Interview Survey was analyzed by scientists to determine the value of exercise as we age. Over the course of an average of eight years, the study compared the number of deaths in each age bracket with their respective levels of exercise participation. Factors such as sex, age, race/ethnicity, education, marital status, BMI, smoking and alcohol use at baseline, as well as the existence of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, COPD, and asthma were all taken into account in the study.
Researchers found that while meeting the recommended strength training guideline resulted in a "lower risk of death for any reason than adults who did strength training less than twice weekly," doing more than the recommended amount of strength training each week did not provide any additional protection.
The study's authors draw the conclusion that persons of all ages, including those 85 and up, benefit from following the current health guidelines.