Fewer than 10 percent of Americans regularly lift weights, but perhaps more of us should, according to a study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Scientists at the University of North Florida, in Jacksonville, found that weightlifters had a 37 percent reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors linked to heart disease and diabetes. Previous research had linked having greater muscle strength and mass (results of weightlifting) to lower rates of metabolic syndrome.
People with three out of five risk factors—a large waist (more than 40 inches for men, more than 35 inches for women), high triglycerides, low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar—may be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. The researchers also analyzed data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which showed that young men were most likely to do regular weightlifting, while women, older people and Latinos were least likely. The survey statistics support the conclusion that non-weightlifters are more likely to have metabolic syndrome.