Independent and joint associations of weightlifting and aerobic activity with all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial

Gorzelitz J, Trabert B, Katki HA, et al. Br J Sports Med 2022;56:1277–1283.



Both aerobic moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and muscle-strengthening exercise (MSE) are recommended, but the mortality benefits of weightlifting, a specific type of MSE, are limited.


In the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, we used Cox proportional hazards regression to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for the associations between weightlifting
and mortality, adjusting for demographics, lifestyle and behavioural risk factors. The sample included 99 713 adults who completed the follow-up questionnaire that assessed weightlifting who were subsequently followed up through 2016 to determine mortality (median 9, IQR 7.6–10.6 years).


Mean age at the follow-up questionnaire was 71.3 (IQR 66–76) years, 52.6% female, with mean body mass index of 27.8 (SD 4.9) kg/m2. Weightlifting was associated with a 9% lower risk of all-cause mortality (HR=0.91 (95% CI 0.88 to 0.94)) and CVD mortality (0.91 (95% CI 0.86 to 0.97)) after adjusting for MVPA. Joint models revealed that adults who met aerobic MVPA recommendations but did not weightlift had a 32% lower all-cause mortality risk (HR=0.68 (95% CI 0.65 to 0.70)), while those who also reported weightlifting 1–2 times/week had a 41% lower risk (HR=0.59 (95% CI 0.54 to 0.64)), both compared with adults reporting no aerobic MVPA or weightlifting. Without adjustment for MVPA, weightlifting was associated with lower cancer mortality (HR=0.85 (95% CI 0.80 to 0.91)).


Weightlifting and MVPA were associated with a lower risk of all-cause and CVD mortality, but not cancer mortality. Adults who met recommended amounts of both types of exercise appeared to gain additional benefit.