(NaturalHealth365) Integrative and conventionally-trained physicians alike have long advised regular exercise as a natural and effective way to ward off chronic disease conditions. Unfortunately, the more popular notion that aerobic exercise is the ‘gold standard’ for disease prevention tends to make strength training an after thought. (but, today, I hope to change all of that!)
A brand-new Australian study has the potential to flip conventional wisdom upside down. Researchers are reporting that strength training should no longer take a back seat to aerobic exercise. In fact, it’s just as important – if not more so for optimal health.
The fact is: not only can strength training reduce the risk of dying from cancer – but it can reduce the risk of dying from any cause. Let’s take a closer look at how this news can help you.
Unexpected RESULTS: Just two exercise sessions – done the right way – can SLASH your cancer risk
The observational 2018 study, which was conducted at the University of Sydney and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, drew upon a core population sample of over 80,000 adults over 30.
The team used data from the Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey, along with statistics from the National Health Service Central Mortality Register. And, the findings definitely challenge prevailing wisdom.
The team found that performing a strength (resistance) training workout twice a week or more reduced the risk of cancer death by a substantial 31 percent – and also cut all-cause mortality risk by 23 percent.
As expected, ‘vigorous‘ exercise – which most people identify as heart-pounding aerobic exercise – was found to reduce the risk of death from heart disease. But, this form of exercise had little impact on reduce the risk of premature death from cancer.
Just to be clear: strength training – which includes activities like, weight lifting, squats and pushups – uses resistance to promote muscular contractions in order to increase muscle mass, buildup physical strength and overall endurance.
On the other hand: aerobic exercise is activity that keeps the heart pumping for an extended period of time and promotes the circulation of oxygen through the blood. It also stimulates and strengthens the heart and lungs, and helps the body use oxygen more efficiently.
These results spark a NEW set of rules to live by…
The findings were conclusive enough for researchers to recommend that public health authorities encourage people to engage in strength training in order to promote long-term health and well-being.
And performing strength-focused workouts may be easier than you think!
Lead author Dr. Emmanual Stamatakis, an associate professor in the School of Public Health at University of Sydney, noted that many people are intimidated by both the costs and the competitive, public atmosphere of a gym.
But he pointed out that strength training does not necessarily require free weights, weight machines – or even a gym, for that matter. Classic, low-tech strength exercises such as sit-ups, pushups, lunges and squats can be effectively performed at home.
“The analysis … showed exercises performed using one’s own body weight without specific equipment were just as effective as gym-based training,” Dr. Stamatakis reported.
Men who pump iron are a surprising 40 percent less likely to die of cancer
Meanwhile, research from Sweden supports the results of the Australian study – but this particular study did involve the use of weights.
In research conducted by the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Sweden and published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, an international team of scientists tracked over 8,500 men aged between 20 and 82 for over 20 years.
The team evaluated the participants’ muscular strength by noting their 1-repetition maximal measures for leg and bench presses – and concluded that men who had the highest muscle strength were between 30 and 40 percent less likely to die from cancer.
Not surprisingly, men who worked out consistently with weights were the most muscular – and enjoyed the most protection. But, the team noted that even participants with excess abdominal fat and high body mass index still enjoyed a protective effect from strength training – a powerful testimony to the benefits of this healthy habit.
In additional research, strength training has been linked to lowering of blood pressure (even more so than aerobic exercise) and can actually help to enhance running, swimming and cycling times.
For maximum benefit, balance regular aerobic workouts with consistent strength training
The researchers advised that men can reduce cancer mortality rates by performing resistance training involving major muscle groups from both the upper and lower body – at least twice a week.
Believe it or not, the World Health Organization (WHO) actually mirrors this kind of advice.
The WHO recommends two days of strength-building exercise a week – with or without weights – coupled with 150 minutes per week of moderately intense aerobic exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic exercise.
It should be noted that strength training alone had no effect on death from heart disease.
The solution is simple: For “the best of both worlds,” engage in both types of exercise – and enjoy benefits that include better brain health, improved gut microbiome balance and elevated mood.
Naturally, if you have been inactive for some time, or have a medical condition, talk to an experienced exercise physiologist or healthcare provider to help guide you along the way.
But, don’t wait! Take action today and enjoy the benefits for a lifetime.
About the author: Jonathan Landsman is the host of NaturalHealth365.com, the NaturalHealth365 Talk Hour – a free, weekly health show and the NaturalHealth365 INNER CIRCLE – a monthly subscription to the brightest minds in natural health and healing.
Reaching hundreds of thousands of people, worldwide, as a personal health consultant, writer and radio talk show host – Jonathan has been educating the public on the health benefits of an organic (non-GMO) diet along with high-quality supplementation and healthy lifestyle habits including exercise and meditation.
Sources for this article include:
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