1. After adjusting for aerobic moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), weightlifting was associated with a 9% lower risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

2. Among adults reporting no aerobic MVPA, any weightlifting was associated with 9-22% lower all-cause mortality.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Though the evidence is undisputed for the health benefits of aerobic MVPA, most of the health benefits for muscle-strengthening exercise (MSE) come from studies with specific populations and shorter time outcomes. Weightlifting is a popular modality of MSE; however, its relationship with mortality has been understudied. As a result, the objective of the present prospective study was to examine the relationship between weightlifting and all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality.

The present study used data from The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial which included 154,897 patients. In 2006, follow-up questionnaires were sent to 104,002 participants. Of these, 99,713 (46.8% men) eligible patients completed the follow-up questionnaire in 2006 who were then followed up through 2016 to determine mortality. The follow-up questionnaire prompted patients to list details about their exercise habits. Mortality data were obtained from study update questionnaires as well as reports from family or physicians. Statistical analysis was performed using Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results demonstrated that after adjusting for aerobic MVPA, weightlifting was associated with a 9% lower risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Furthermore, among adults reporting no aerobic MVPA, any weightlifting was associated with 9-22% lower all-cause mortality. Without adjusting for MVPA, weightlifting was also associated with decreased cancer mortality. Despite these findings, the present study was limited by its homogeneity (mainly non-Hispanic white men). Nonetheless, the study provided support for the inclusion of weightlifting as an important health behavior in improving the longevity of older adults.

Click to read the study in British Journal of Sports Medicine 

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