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Muscle-strengthening activities to improve health outcomes: what the evidence supports
  1. Katherine Rose Marino1,
  2. Dane Vishnubala2,3,
  3. Pekka Oja4
  1. 1Royal Stoke University Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
  2. 2Hull York Medical School, Hull, UK
  3. 3University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  4. 4UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, Tampere, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katherine Rose Marino, Royal Stoke University Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 6QG, UK; katiemarino{at}live.co.uk

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Evidence for the benefits of regular physical activity is irrefutable. Physical activity guidelines often include a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Muscle strengthening activities can also be referred to as strength, weights or resistance exercise and are defined as a voluntary activity that includes the use of weight machines, exercise bands, hand-held weights or own-body weight.1 Recent data suggest that only 10%–30% of adults meet the muscle-strengthening activity recommendations.2–5 While focus has previously been placed on musculoskeletal benefits, research has also found muscle-strengthening activities are independently associated with a variety of improved health outcomes including decreases in all-cause mortality, and improvements in cardiometabolic and mental health.6

Historic lack of emphasis on muscle-strengthening activities

While physical activity recommendations that include aerobic activity have been available since the 1970s, muscle-strengthening activities were first included in the WHO’s physical activity recommendations in 2010.7 The inclusion of muscle-strengthening activities was further highlighted in the 2020 WHO physical activity recommendations which state that adults should do muscle-strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity …

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @krmarino1

  • Contributors KRM wrote the initial draft of the text. All authors reviewed and edited the text and approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests KRM is an associate editor of the BJSM.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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