4. Metabolic Syndrome: An Hour of Resistance Training per Week May Cut Risk

A new study suggests that less than 1 hour per week of resistance training, even without aerobic exercise, can de-risk metabolic syndrome.

Lead author Esmée Bakker, of Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and colleagues report their findings in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of health risk factors that increases the probability that a person will develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke.

In their study paper, Bakker and colleagues explain that increasing exercise is a "cornerstone for preventing and treating" metabolic syndrome. For their analysis, the team used data from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study on more than 7,000 adults. The average age of the participants was 46 years and 19 percent were women. The participants underwent extensive medical exams between 1987 and 2006 and all were free of metabolic syndrome when they enrolled.

The researchers found that any amount of resistance training that met the 2008 U.S. guidelines for physical activity was linked to a 17 percent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, compared with not doing any at all.

The U.S. guidelines suggest that adults to "Do muscle-strengthening activities (such as lifting weights or using resistance bands) that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week."

The analysis also showed that doing up to an hour each week of resistance training was linked to a 29 percent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, even after adjusting for other potential influencers such as smoking status and endurance training.

"Our results indicate that a modest amount of resistance exercise, such as two 30-minute sessions per week, has the most beneficial effect. These findings should be included in the standard medical recommendations for preventing metabolic syndrome and future cardiovascular disease."

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