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Does Resistance Exercise Lower Metabolic Syndrome Risk?

Mayo Clin Proc; ePub 2017 Jun 14; Bakker, et al

Even less than 1 hour per week of resistance exercise lowers the risk of development of metabolic syndrome, a recent study found. The study cohort included adults (mean SD age 46±9.5 years) who received medical examinations between January 1, 1987, and December 31, 2006. Exercise was assessed by self-reported frequency and minutes per week of resistance and aerobic exercise and meeting the US Physical Activity Guidelines. Researchers found:

  • Among 7,418 participants, 1,147 (15%) had development of metabolic syndrome (MetS) during a median follow-up of 4 years.
  • Meeting resistance exercise guidelines was associated with a 17% lower risk of MetS (HR, 0.83), after adjusting for confounders and aerobic exercise.
  • Additionally, <1 hour of weekly resistance exercise was associated with a 29% lower risk of development of MetS (HR, 0.71) compared with no resistance exercise.
  • Individuals meeting both recommended resistance and aerobic exercise guidelines had a 25% lower risk of development of MetS (HR, 0.75) compared with meeting neither guideline.


Bakker EA, Lee D, Sui X, et al. Association of resistance exercise, independent of and combined with aerobic exercise, with the incidence of metabolic syndrome. [Published online ahead of print June 14, 2017]. Mayo Clin Proc. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.02.018.


Data shows that aerobic exercise decreases the incidence of metabolic syndrome and improves cardiac risk factors.1,2 This study supports that even small amounts, less than 1 hour per week, of resistance exercise has beneficial effects on metabolic risk factors. This is consistent with previous studies that show resistance exercise decreases the risk of developing diabetes.3 The current study supports recommending a combination of both aerobic and resistance exercise when we discuss exercise with patients. —Neil Skolnik, MD

  1. Pattyn N, Cornelissen VA, Eshghi SR, Vanhees L. The effect of exercise on the cardiovascular risk factors constituting the metabolic syndrome: A meta-analysis of controlled trials. Sports Med. 2013;43(2):121-133. doi:10.1007/s40279-012-0003-z.
  2. Bateman LA, Slentz CA, Willis LH, et al. Comparison of aerobic versus resistance exercise training effects on metabolic syndrome (from the studies of a targeted risk reduction intervention through defined exercise - STRRIDE-AT/RT). Am J Cardiol. 2011;108(6):838-844. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2011.04.037.
  3. Crump C, Sundquist J, Winkleby MA, Sieh W, Sundquist K. Physical fitness among Swedish military conscripts and long-term risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus: a cohort study. Ann Intern Med. 2016;164(9):577-584. doi:10.7326/M15-2002.