Does Strength-Promoting Exercise Confer Unique Health Benefits? A Pooled Analysis of Data on 11 Population Cohorts With All-Cause, Cancer, and Cardiovascular Mortality Endpoints

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Public health guidance includes recommendations to engage in strength-promoting exercise (SPE), but there is little evidence on its links with mortality. Using data from the Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey from 1994-2008, we examined the associations between SPE (gym-based and own-body-weight strength activities) and all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality. Multivariable-adjusted Cox regression was used to examine the associations between SPE (any, low-/high-volume, and adherence to the SPE guideline (≥2 sessions/week)) and mortality. The core sample comprised 80,306 adults aged ≥30 years, corresponding to 5,763 any-cause deaths (736,463 person-years). Following exclusions for prevalent disease/events occurring in the first 24 months, participation in any SPE was favorably associated with all-cause (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.77, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.69, 0.87) and cancer (HR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.56, 0.86) mortality. Adhering only to the SPE guideline was associated with all-cause (HR = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.66, 0.94) and cancer (HR = 0.66, 95% CI: 0.48, 0.92) mortality; adhering only to the aerobic activity guideline (equivalent to 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity activity) was associated with all-cause (HR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.78, 0.90) and cardiovascular disease (HR = 0.78, 95% CI: 0.68, 0.90) mortality. Adherence to both guidelines was associated with all-cause (HR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.57, 0.87) and cancer (HR = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.50, 0.98) mortality. Our results support promoting adherence to the strength exercise guidelines over and above the generic physical activity targets.

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