Resistance training reduces premature death risk - new study

If you have been considering registering for a gym class, this is a cue that you are on the right track.

People doing resistance training at the gym

When you hear the word “exercise,” what often comes to mind is weight loss, and when you hear “workout,” you often think of “physical fitness.” You may not know that there is more to exercising and working out than just looking good physically.

Exercise and workout are terms used to indicate physical activity, but there is a slight difference between the two. While exercising is a general term for doing any physical activity, working out is generally used to refer to a more specific set of physical activities, usually targeting specific muscles or following a precise pattern.

Aside from making people physically fit and helping them control their weight, exercising and working out can help people in the following ways:

  • Reduce the risk of developing health conditions like stroke, heart attack and diabetes
  • Build the muscles
  • Strengthen the bones
  • Build physical strength
  • Increase the quality of life
  • Help manage chronic health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. 

How 60 minutes weekly resistance training reduces your risk of premature death

According to a recent 2022 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, resistance training, which is a form of workout, is linked to a reduced risk of all-cause mortality.

The research, which was a meta-analysis of 10 studies, found that resistance exercise reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer by 19% and 14%, respectively. 

The researchers also found that some previous studies indicated that resistance training can lower the risk of death from all causes by 27%, which could help people live longer. 

The National Cancer Institute defines premature death as when a person dies before the average age of death (also called life expectancy) in a given population. How long on average a newborn is expected to live in Nigeria as of 2022 is about 60 years for people assigned males at birth and 63 years for people assigned females at birth.

Various studies have shown that resistance training can help improve quality of life. When you are physically inactive, you lose a lot of muscle mass, accumulate fat, and experience a reduced metabolism.

But as little as 10 weeks of resistance training can increase the rate at which the body burns fat by 7% and reduce fat by 1.8 kg. These all amount to improvements in walking speed, movement control, cognitive performance, mental health, functionality, and self-esteem, leading to a reduced risk of dying premature.

What is resistance training?

Resistance training is a form of physical activity that involves using resistance to muscular contraction to increase strength. It is a form of exercise that involves working out the muscles using an opposing force.

“Resistance training involves the performance of physical exercises that are designed to improve strength as well as endurance,” Jude Aghwaremre, a health and fitness expert and trainer, tells SemicHealth. 

Because one of the major goals of resistance training is to build strength, people also call it strength training. 

Some examples of resistance training exercises include:

  • Weight lifting
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Planks
  • Lunges
  • Arm raises
  • Straight leg raises

Cardio vs. resistance training

Resistance and cardio training are both forms of physical activity, but they have different goals. Cardio is short for cardiovascular training, and just like the name implies, it is a form of training that aims at improving cardiovascular health. On the other hand, resistance training focuses more on building muscle and physical strength.

"Cardio workouts burn more calories than resistance training," Aghwaremre says. 

Cardio training also helps you lose more fat. But if you want to keep and build your muscles while losing extra body fat, resistance training is the best thing to do. 

"Many people have developed an understanding of how their bodies work, so they frequently split their cardio and resistance training into different days of the week," Aghwaremre says.

Cardio training is also a great exercise for boosting endorphins, a brain chemical that helps improve mood and reduces anxiety and depression. It improves cardiovascular health by improving blood and oxygen circulation and reducing cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

 Examples of cardio training include biking, hiking, cycling, jumping, running, and swimming. 

Is it better to do cardio or resistance training?

Both resistance training and cardio workouts are extremely beneficial to one's health. Resistance training offers some of the benefits of cardio exercise, but that doesn't ultimately mean it is the best form of exercise. It all depends on the goal you want to achieve.

"It all boils down to what you want out of your fitness and training journey. Stick to what you want to do and stay focused," Aghwaremre pointed out.

Benefits of resistance training

If you do resistance training, you will gain benefits like increased muscle mass and strength. But, aside from that, you can also gain cardio benefits from resistance training. 

Benefits of resistance training include:

  • Helps burning calories
  • Helps relieve stress
  • Increases metabolic rate
  • Promotes brain health
  • Enhances overall health

“Resistance training helps prevent underlying health conditions. It enhances faster recovery and reduces fatigue,” Aghwaremre says. 

Health experts have also examined the benefits of resistance training for pregnant people. According to a 2020 study published in the Health and Fitness Journal of Canada, resistance training may promote physiological states and functional abilities in pregnant people. This can help ease pregnancy symptoms and facilitate the labor and delivery process. 

If you are pregnant, speak with your doctor before trying resistance training to be sure it is safe for you and to find out how long you can do it. Also, it may be best for you to stick with low-intensity resistance workouts so they don't cause harm to you or the baby.

Despite the health benefits associated with resistance training, not everyone who starts it reaps its benefits. Some are not consistent, while others do not make long-term plans for it. 

“If you are consistent and focused, you stand a chance to return to a better physique and fitness,” Aghwaremre says. 

To get the most out of your resistance training, you may need to hire the services of a professional fitness trainer who will guide you on how to perform the training and the right forms and equipment to use.  

Since consistency is the key to reaching your resistance training goals, it is also important that you derive pleasure from doing it. It is easier to be consistent at something when you enjoy doing it.

Resistance training myths you should ignore

There are some common myths about resistance training that you might want to ignore. For instance, some people believe resistance training is not for females because it makes them develop very bulky muscles. But that is not entirely true. 

If you work with a fitness expert and tell them your fitness goal, they can help you attain it without going overboard. 

“People often mistake strength training for just lifting heavyweights, which has discouraged most people, especially the female gender, from trying it out. You should know that with resistance training, you don’t necessarily need to lift weights as you can gain resistance using your body weight,” Aghwaremre explains. 

Finally, lifting weights is not the ultimate key to muscle toning. While it can play an important role in muscle toning, lifting heavy or light weights repeatedly is not the only way to achieve that. Instead, mix weight lifting with other forms of workout, including cardio, while targeting specific muscles. 

Find out why refined grains like white rice are bad for your heart health.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Benefits of physical activity.
  2. Deol, J., & Warburton, D. E. (2020). Resistance Training and Pregnancy.
  3. Pinckard, Kelsey, et al. (2019). Effects of Exercise to Improve Cardiovascular Health.
  4. Sasu, D. (2022). Life expectancy at birth in Nigeria in 2022, by gender.
  5. Shailendra, Prathiyankara et al. (2022). Resistance Training and Mortality Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
  6. Westcott, Wayne L. (2012). Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health.