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Current public health guidelines recommend that adults engage in regular physical activity for optimal health. Findings from a new study suggest that a combination of both aerobic and strength activities reduces the risk of death from all causes as well as specific causes.

According to the guidelines, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, or an equivalent combination of both. They should also engage in muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity on two days or more each week.

The population-based cohort study, which involved nearly 480,000 adults, drew on data from the National Health Interview Survey, an ongoing, cross-sectional survey of people living in the United States. The study participants reported how much leisure time aerobic and strength physical activity they engaged in each week. Then the authors of the study categorized them as having insufficient activity, aerobic activity only, strength activity only, and both aerobic and strengthening activities, based on the guidelines.

The authors found that the participants who engaged in recommended amounts of aerobic or muscle-strengthening activity had a lower risk of death from all causes, and these benefits were even greater if they engaged in both types of activities. They noted similar reductions in risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory tract diseases.

These findings suggest that adherence to public health guidelines for exercise reduce the risk of disease and death and provide support for interventions to improve compliance.

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