The objective of this overview of systematic reviews was to determine the benefits and harms of resistance training (RT) on health outcomes in adults aged 18 years or older, compared with not participating in RT. Four electronic databases were searched in February 2019 for systematic reviews published in the past 10 years. Eligibility criteria were determined a priori for population (community dwelling adults), intervention (exclusively RT), comparator (no RT or different doses of RT), and health outcomes (critical: mortality, physical functioning, health-related quality of life, and adverse events; important: cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, mental health, brain health, cognitive function, cancer, fall-related injuries or falls, and bone health). We selected 1 review per outcome and we used the GRADE process to assess the strength of evidence. We screened 2089 records and 375 full-text articles independently, in duplicate. Eleven systematic reviews were included, representing 364 primary studies and 382 627 unique participants. RT was associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease incidence, and an improvement in physical functioning. Effects on health-related quality of life or cognitive function were less certain. Adverse events were not consistently monitored or reported in RT studies, but serious adverse events were not common. Systematic reviews for the remaining important health outcomes could not be identified. Overall, RT training improved health outcomes in adults and the benefits outweighed the harms. (PROSPERO registration no.: CRD42019121641.)
Novelty This overview was required to inform whether there was new evidence to support changes to the recommended guidelines for resistance training.