A recent study from Iowa State University is one of the first studies that examine resistance exercise and heart disease risk.
Researchers found that doing just one hour of weight lifting every week may protect against heart attacks and strokes.
Such an exercise could reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70%.
But spending more than an hour in the weight room did not yield any additional benefit. This means people don’t need to spend a lot of time lifting weights to gain health benefits.
The study is published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. One author is Duck-chul Lee, associate professor of kinesiology.
In the study, the team analyzed data of nearly 13,000 adults in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study.
They looked at the relationship between resistance exercise and diabetes as well as high cholesterol.
They measured three health outcomes: heart attack and stroke that did not result in death, all cardiovascular events including death and any type of death.
The findings showed that resistance exercise reduced the risk for all three.
For example, less than an hour of weekly resistance exercise was linked to a 29% lower risk of metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The risk of high cholesterol was 32% lower.
The team says that muscle is the power plant to burn calories. Building muscle helps move joints and bones, and there are metabolic benefits.
Unlike aerobic activity, resistance exercise is not as easy to incorporate into the daily routine.
The team suggests that a gym membership may be beneficial. It can offer more options for resistance exercise and can motivate people to exercise more.
While this study focused on the use of free weights and weight machines, people can still benefit from other resistance exercises or any muscle-strengthening activities.
In addition, the benefits of strength training are independent of running, walking, or other aerobic activity.
In other words, people don’t have to meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic physical activity to lower your risk; weight training alone is enough.
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