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The Amazing Effects of 30 Minutes a Week of Resistance Training

March 25, 2022
The Amazing Effects of 30 Minutes a Week of Resistance Training - Lark Health

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In this article:

  • A new study finds that doing 30 to 90 minutes per week of resistance training, or strength training, is linked to lower risk for premature death.
  • Contrary to myths, strength training doesn't make you bulk up automatically, and it's not bad for joints. It's recommended for adults of all ages, and you don't need special equipment to do it.
  • Including both resistance training and aerobic activity can have even more benefits for health.
  • Lark can help you reach your physical activity and health goals.

Would you set aside 30 minutes a week if it meant living longer? A new study says doing 30 minutes a week of resistance training can help lower risk of premature mortality, or early death. It's not hard to get started, and it doesn't take much time! Here's what the study found and how you can use it to your advantage. 

What the Science Says

Researchers from Japan asked how resistance training affects the risk of premature death. They checked 16 earlier studies, including hundreds of thousands of participants. They looked at links between longevity and minutes per week of resistance training, which includes exercises to strengthen muscles, such as weight lifting, body weight exercises, or resistance band training.

 Here's what they found.

  • People who did at least 30 minutes per week of resistance training had a 10 to 17% risk of premature death.
  • People with diabetes saw benefits when they did 30 to 60 minutes per week.
  • Among people who did 30 to 60 minutes per week of strength training, deaths were reduced overall and from cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.
  • Doing more than 90 minutes per week of strength training had a negative effect.

The results are in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Americans Fall Short

Are you like most Americans? For years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that adults should include muscle-strengthening exercises for health and fitness. Still, more than two-thirds of adults fail to meet recommendations for muscle-strengthening activity, according to Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports from the CDC. Maybe it's time to start!

Resistance Training Myths and Truths

Why don't people meet recommendations for muscle-strengthening exercises? Here are some common myths around resistance training, and the truth surrounding them.

  • Myth: It will make you bulk up. The truth is that weight training tones and strengthens muscles. It can make you look leaner. You're not likely to accidentally put on muscle like a bodybuilder if you casually strength-train.
  • Myth: It makes you gain weight. Actually, resistance training burns calories, which is good for weight loss. The muscle you build from resistance training burns more calories throughout the day, which further boosts metabolism and weight loss.
  • Myth: It's bad for your health. The truth is that organizations such as the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) recommend strength training to lower blood sugar and blood pressure in diabetes and hypertension, respectively. 
  • Myth: It's bad for joints and makes you get hurt. Smart strength training reduces injury risk by making your muscles better able to support your movements. Be sure to do exercises with proper form!
  • Myth: Strength training is only for young people. No, you're never too old to focus on muscle health and function! Strength training goals in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are the same for all adults, including those over 65 years.

Ideas for Resistance Training

You can use weight machines to strengthen your muscles, but you don't have to. There are many other ways to get in your 30 to 90 minutes per week of muscle-strengthening activities. These are some alternatives to use.

  • Resistance bands
  • Kettle bell
  • Dumbbells
  • Weighted balls

Body weight exercises can also count, and they don't require any equipment! Push-ups, pull-ups, and planks are examples. Home items to consider include water bottles, towels, and bags of sugar or flour. If the exercise you are doing tires out your muscles, it probably counts as muscle-strengthening activity.

Tips for Getting Started

It's best to get the go-ahead from your healthcare provider before starting any new type of activity or exercise program.

  • Choose exercises that work major muscle groups. These include the fronts and backs of the arms and legs (including the biceps, triceps, quadriceps, and calves). The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans also say to work the shoulders, chest, hips, and abdomen.
  • Ask an expert to help you with proper form for each exercise.
  • Over time, try a variety of exercises for each muscle group. You can get better results when you switch up your exercises.
  • Each set should be 8 to 12 repetitions or "reps." You might do 2 to 3 sets of each exercise in a given session. That means you'll do a total of 16 to 36 reps of each exercise in a session.

Resistance Training versus Cardio

What's better: resistance training or cardio? Both! Getting in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity still has benefits, such as these.

  • Helps with weight control.
  • Helps lower blood pressure.
  • Lowers risk for type 2 diabetes and helps lower blood sugar.

In fact, study authors looked at the effects of doing resistance and aerobic activities. Overall, people who did both had a 40% lower risk for early death!

Lark can help you get to at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous-intensity activities. The more you log, the more personalized your program will be. You can log workouts and get instant feedback on your physical activity as you work to improve health or lose weight.

Lark makes physical activity simple. With Lark, weight loss and healthy living happen when you make small changes that fit into your lifestyle. Lark offers tips, tracking, instant feedback, and friendly suggestions. Over time, small healthy changes can become habits for long-term success. Your personal Lark coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone so you can get expert tips, track meals, physical activity, and weight loss.

The entire program may be available at no cost to you if your health insurer covers it. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark! You could be minutes away from taking the first steps to hitting your weight loss goals and improving health.

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