Digging the garden for an hour a week can help prolong life, study finds


One hour a week of intensive gardening could help reduce a person’s risk of premature death, according to a new study.

Participation in muscle-strengthening activities such as weight lifting, resistance training, or gardening activities, including digging and shoveling for 30 to 60 minutes per week, has been associated with a reduced risk of premature death and some major diseases.

But the researchers said people get the most benefit when they participate in aerobic activities and muscle-strengthening activities.

According to UK physical activity guidelines, muscle-strengthening activities can include carrying heavy shopping bags, yoga, pilates, tai chi, weight lifting, working with resistance bands and performing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening such as digging and shoveling, wheeling a wheelchair, or lifting and carrying children.

It is recommended that adults engage in strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups at least two days per week and participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week.

The latest study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, saw Japanese experts conduct a review of 16 studies that looked at the effect of muscle-strengthening exercises on the risk of death and major diseases, including cardiovascular disease ( CVD), cancer and diabetes. .

The team found that muscle-strengthening activities were linked to:

– a 15% lower risk of death during the follow-up period of the studies included in the analysis.
– a 17% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
– a 12% lower risk of cancer.
– A 17% reduction in the incidence of diabetes.
– But associations have not been observed with certain specific cancers such as bowel cancer, kidney, bladder and pancreatic cancers.

The researchers found that the “maximum” benefit for protection against early death as well as some of these major diseases was seen when people participated in 30 to 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity each week.

Further analysis revealed that greater benefit was obtained when people participated in both muscle-strengthening activities and aerobic activities such as brisk walking, jogging or cycling.

The study authors wrote, “Muscle-strengthening activities were associated with a 10-17% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, diabetes, lung cancer, and all-cause mortality independent of activities. aerobics in adults.

“The maximum reduction in risk of all-cause mortality, CVD, and total cancer was achieved at approximately 30-60 minutes/week of muscle-strengthening activities, and the risk of diabetes was greatly reduced up to 60 minutes/ week of muscle-strengthening activities, followed by a gradual taper.

They added: “Combined muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities were associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and total cancer mortality.”


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