Resistance Exercise Training as a Primary Countermeasure to Age-Related Chronic Disease

Front Physiol. 2019 Jun 6;10:645. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00645. eCollection 2019.


Age is a primary risk factor for a number of chronic diseases including mobility disability, cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes (T2D), and cancer. Most physical activity guidelines emphasize the performance of 150 min of moderate-to-vigorous or 75 min of vigorous aerobic exercise training (AET) weekly for reduction of chronic disease risk. Nonetheless, there is an emerging body of evidence showing that resistance exercise training (RET) appears to be as effective as AET in reducing risk of several chronic diseases. It may also be that RET is more effective than AET in some regards; the converse is likely also true. We posit that the perceived divergent exercise mode-dependent health benefits of AET and RET are likely small in most cases. In this short review, our aim is to examine evidence of associations between the performance of RET and chronic health disease risk (mobility disability, T2D, CVD, cancer). We also postulate on how RET may be influencing chronic disease risk and how it is a critical component for healthy aging. Accumulating evidence points to RET as a potent and robust preventive strategy against a number of chronic diseases traditionally associated with the performance of AET, but evidence favors RET as a potent countermeasure against declines in mobility. On the basis of this review we propose that the promotion of RET should assume a more prominent position in exercise guidelines particularly for older persons.

Keywords: aging; cancer; cardiovascular disease; chronic disease risk; physical mobility; resistance training; sarcopenia; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review