We’ve long known that aerobic exercise is important. Activity that gets your heart rate up — like jogging, swimming, fast walking, and other sports — remains a significant way to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. But muscle strengthening exercises deserve a second consideration.
In addition to building muscle, strength training protects bones by increasing their density, an important benefit for aging women. And recent evidence suggests that it also reduces BMI (body mass index, a measure of body fat based on weight in relation to height), improving how the body uses insulin.
Based on these findings, scientists wondered if there may be even more significant benefits to lifting weights.
A new study published in this month’s issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that muscle-strengthening exercise can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The study tracked the exercise patterns of 3,600 women ages 47 and above annually from 2000 to 2014. Those who did some amount of muscle-strengthening exercise reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 30% and cardiovascular disease by 17%, compared to those who did none. This was found to be true after the researchers adjusted for variables like diet and other physical activity.
What’s more, when women in the study coupled strength training with at least 120 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, their risk of type 2 diabetes was reduced by 65%. That’s a pretty compelling argument for integrating both kinds of exercise into your routine!
More research is needed to determine the ideal amount of time and intensity of strength training, but it’s clear that this often neglected form of exercise can do wonders at improving your health.