Digging your garden and carrying heavy shopping bags can reduce your risk of dying from causes including heart disease, cancer and diabetes, according to a new study.
That’s because they are muscle-strengthening exercises, and researchers in Japan have found that doing just 30 to 60 minutes a week of such activities is linked to a 10-20% fall in our mortality risk.
Activity that strengthens your muscles can help you live longer, researchers in Japan have found. Image: Twitter/British Journal of Sports Medicine
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Lifting weights, working with resistance bands, push-ups, heavy gardening and some forms of yoga are among the muscle-strengthening activities recommended by the United States Department of Health.
In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service lists carrying heavy shopping bags, wheeling a wheelchair, tai chi and lifting and carrying children as muscle-strengthening activities.
Just half an hour of muscle-strengthening activities a week can cut your risk of death from all causes by up to a fifth. Image: UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines 2019
Living longer lives
It was already known that muscle-strengthening activity is good for musculoskeletal health. However, this new study shows what amount of exercise gives the most benefit, with 30-60 minutes a week linked to the biggest fall in the risk of death.
The research is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and analyzes data over more than 25 years from adults in the US, England, Scotland, Australia and Japan. It shows that for those with diabetes, up to an hour a week of muscle-strengthening activity is linked to an L-shaped “large risk reduction”.
Doing aerobic exercise as well as muscle-strengthening activity is associated with a much bigger fall in mortality risk of 40%, says the research team, which was led by the Tohoku University School of Medicine in Sendai, northeast Japan. Examples of aerobic activity include brisk walking, swimming and running.