Lifting weights protects against metabolic syndrome

October 23, 2012

People who lift weights are less likely to have metabolic syndrome—a cluster of risk factors linked to heart disease and diabetes, reports a study in the October issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

"Lifting weights may play a role in reducing the prevalence and risk of metabolic syndrome among U.S. adults," according to the study by Peter M. Magyari, PhD, HFS, CSCS, and James R. Churilla, PhD, MPH, MS, RCEP, CSCS, FACSM of Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida, Jacksonville.

About Nine Percent of Americans Lift Weights…

The researchers analyzed data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), an ongoing, nationally representative study of health . In the survey, respondents were simply asked whether they lifted weights; the responses were analyzed for association with the presence of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors linked to increased rates risk of cardiovascular disease and . People with at least three out of five risk factors—large waist circumference (more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women), high triglyceride levels, reduced levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, or "good" cholesterol), elevated blood pressure, and high glucose levels—are considered to have metabolic syndrome.

Of 5,618 U.S. adults who had fasting blood samples for analysis, 8.8 percent answered yes to the question about lifting weights. Lifting weights was about twice as common in men than women: 11.2 versus 6.3 percent. It was also more common among younger people—lifting weights became less frequent for people aged 50 years and older.

White and black Americans were about equally likely to lift weights, while Mexican Americans were least likely. People at higher socioeconomic levels were also more likely to say they lifted weights.

…Reducing the Odds of Metabolic Syndrome by 37 Percent

This cross-sectional analysis of the 1999-2004 NHANES data found a lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome among people who reported lifting weights: 24.6 percent, compared to 37.3 percent in those who did not lift weights. After adjustment for demographic factors, lifting weights was associated with a 37 percent reduction in the odds of metabolic syndrome.

Several recent studies have evaluated the impact of exercise for prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome. Resistance exercise, including weight-lifting, may have protective effects. Research has linked greater muscle strength and muscle mass to lower rates of metabolic syndrome. Since lifting weights increases muscle strength and mass, it might also help to decrease the development of metabolic syndrome.

The new study provides population-level data showing that people who lift weights are less likely to have the risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome. This suggests that incorporating weight lifting or other forms of resistance exercise into physical activity programs might be an effective way to reduce the risk of , both for individuals and in the population.

"Exercise professionals should strongly encourage the activity of lifting weights among adults of all ages to promote metabolic health," Drs Magyari and Churilla conclude. These efforts should focus on groups with lower rates of weight lifting: women, older adults, Mexican Americans, and lower-income people. The authors acknowledge some significant limitations of their study—such as a lack of detailed information on weight lifting and other types of resistance exercise, including manual labor.

Explore further: One in five Canadians has metabolic syndrome

Related Stories

One in five Canadians has metabolic syndrome

September 12, 2011
Approximately one in five Canadians has metabolic syndrome — a combination of risk factors for diabetes and heart disease — according to a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

High blood glucose levels may increase kidney disease in elderly populations

March 6, 2012
defined as having multiple risk factors associated with developing diabetes and heart disease—had an increased risk of chronic kidney disease, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's ...

Metabolic syndrome may cause kidney disease

August 19, 2011
Metabolic syndrome comprises a group of medical disorders that increase people's risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and premature death when they occur together. A patient is diagnosed with the syndrome when he or she ...

Vegetarians may be at lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke

April 13, 2011
Vegetarians experience a 36 percent lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome than non-vegetarians, suggests new research from Loma Linda University published in the journal Diabetes Care. Because metabolic syndrome can be a ...

Building muscle without heavy weights

April 26, 2012
Weight training at a lower intensity but with more repetitions may be as effective for building muscle as lifting heavy weights says a new opinion piece in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

Recommended for you

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

More teens than ever aren't getting enough sleep

October 19, 2017
If you're a young person who can't seem to get enough sleep, you're not alone: A new study led by San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge finds that adolescents today are sleeping fewer hours per night ...

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

New study: Nearly half of US medical care comes from emergency rooms

October 17, 2017
Nearly half of all US medical care is delivered by emergency departments, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). And in recent years, the percentage of care delivered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.