Resistance Training is Good for Your Heart
When thinking of heart health and exercise, people usually think cardio: hitting a spin class, using a treadmill and so forth. Weight training is for building and keeping a healthy musculoskeletal system - increasing bone mass, preventing falls and increasing daily function and quality of life, and that's it - right? Well, not so fast!
Reduced Heart Attack Risks - And More!
Studies have shown that weight or resistance training may reduce our risk of heart attack or stroke by 40-70 percent. In a decade-long study of more than 35,000 women, those who performed regular resistance exercise saw a reduction in heart attack, stroke, coronary bypass graft surgery, angioplasty and death from cardiovascular disease. They also saw a 30 percent lower chance of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Another study found similar results in decreased cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and increased longevity with an added benefit: a 32 percent reduction in adipose tissue (unhealthy fat) around the heart. This wasn't seen with the group that did only cardio exercise.
Add Weight Training for Optimal Health
So, consider fitting weight lifting or resistance training into your workout schedule. It's especially good if you have limitations, time constraints or just want to be efficient in your exercise and its benefits. Resistance training packs a big bang for your buck! To get the benefits, though, resistance training must be done properly. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Start slow, but progress to three sessions of around 30 minutes per week.
- Complete a minimum of one exercise that targets each major muscle group.
- Make sure the intensity is such that you challenge the muscle group; be sure to "fatigue" the muscle by the end of the exercise (on a fatigue scale of 1-10, try for a 6-7).
- For best results, a professional trainer can be beneficial in helping you get started.
Please do not toss your walking shoes or give up cardiovascular exercise; that is important, too. Doing both cardio and weight training is ideal and will support optimal health and a good quality of life.