Combining Strength Training and Cardio May Help You Live Longer

Ever wondered what concoction of exercises could unlock the doors to a longer, livelier life? Recent revelations from studies in the British Journal of Sports Medicine hint at a captivating fusion—melding strength training with cardio might just be the elixir to a more robust, healthier tomorrow.

Unveiling the Revelations

These studies unravel a compelling narrative. They suggest that intertwining muscle-strengthening endeavors with aerobic pursuits might hold the key to a longer, richer life. Surprisingly, this dynamic duo shows a notable reduction in the risk of mortality from all causes (except cancer) compared to indulging in either solo.

In essence, the symphony between these two exercise forms could script a transformation in your overall well-being, painting a vibrant panorama of health and vitality.

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The Power of Data

The first study, conducted by researchers from the National Cancer Institute, analyzed data from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, spanning from 1993 to 2016.

Surveys revealed that individuals who combined cardio and muscle strengthening exercises were 41% less likely to succumb to any cause during the trial, except cancer, in comparison to those who remained sedentary. Those who engaged in aerobic activity alone reduced their risk by 32%, while weightlifting alone led to a 9% risk reduction.

The Ageless Impact

Notably, these benefits weren’t exclusive to a particular age group. The study’s average participant age was 71, demonstrating that individuals of varying ages can reap the rewards of this dynamic duo. Additionally, the benefits were observed across different races, ethnicities, and smoking statuses, although gender did play a role, with women deriving greater benefits.

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A Second Voice of Support

A second study, published in the BJSM in August, reinforced these results. Brigham Young University researchers examined data from over 416,000 American adults between 1997 and 2014, revealing that just an hour of exercise per week substantially reduced mortality risk.

This benefit increased up to about three hours of weekly exercise, with diminishing returns beyond this threshold. Regardless of age or gender, engaging in three hours of aerobic exercise and two strength training sessions per week led to a remarkable 30% reduction in all-cause mortality.

Alignment With Recommendations

These studies resonate harmoniously with established federal exercise directives. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services echoes a similar tune, advocating for a weekly dose of 150 minutes in the realm of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes steeped in vigorous intensity.

Additionally, they underscore the importance of infusing muscle-strengthening endeavors into the routine—twice a week, targeting key muscle groups. Whether it’s the resistance bands’ tango, the weighty conversation with dumbbells, or harnessing the body’s own weight as a workout tool, these activities foster strength and resilience.

Unraveling the Magic Behind the Numbers

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But what’s the magic behind this powerful combination of strength training and cardio? While the exact mechanisms remain a mystery, experts believe it sets a cascade of positive effects in motion. Aerobic activity promotes weight loss and positively impacts various conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease, joint problems, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and acid reflux.

It enhances blood flow and oxygen levels, improving insulin resistance and reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol, ultimately mitigating the risks associated with visceral fat.

Conversely, strength training builds muscle, contributing to better glucose metabolism. This insulin resistance decrease reduces risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health issues. Additionally, individuals with more muscle mass and less fat tend to enjoy a lower mortality risk.

Mix It Up

While these studies didn’t delve into specific exercise forms, experts emphasize that the type of activity matters less than the act of moving itself. As Dr. Osborne suggests, “The most important thing is to move as much as you can, as many days a week as you can.

Find something that fits into your lifestyle and mix it up.” Everyday activities such as carrying groceries or opting for the stairs can be counted as strength-building and aerobic exercises, respectively. The key is to make exercise enjoyable and integrate it seamlessly into your daily routine.