Resistance Training Correlates with Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
As one of many continuations of recent efforts to quantify the benefits of various forms of exercise, researchers here find an association between resistance training and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The association is fairly binary; people undertaking any meaningful degree of resistance training show the benefit, and the size of the benefit doesn’t increase with more resistance training. That might make us suspicious regarding the direction of causation. If the association exists because only more robust older individuals tend to undertake resistance training, then the absence of a curve of increasing benefits for greater time spent in training is the expected outcome. The important determinant in that case is the capacity for resistance training. That said, there is plenty of other evidence to suggest that resistance training does in fact provide benefits, a situation analogous to that for aerobic exercise.
Lifting weights for less than an hour a week may reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 percent, according to a new study. Spending more than an hour in the weight room did not yield any additional benefit, the researchers found. The results – some of the first to look at resistance exercise and cardiovascular disease – show benefits of strength training are independent of running, walking, or other aerobic activity. In other words, you do not have to meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic physical activity to lower your risk; weight training alone is enough.
Reseaerchers analyzed data of nearly 13,000 adults in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. They measured three health outcomes: cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke that did not result in death, all cardiovascular events including death and any type of death. Resistance exercise reduced the risk for all three.
Much of the research on strength training has focused on bone health, physical function and quality of life in older adults. When it comes to reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease, most people think of running or other cardio activity. Weight lifting is just as good for your heart, and there are other benefits. Using the same dataset, researchers looked at the relationship between resistance exercise and diabetes as well as hypercholesterolemia, or high cholesterol. The two studies found resistance exercise lowered the risk for both. Less than an hour of weekly resistance exercise (compared with no resistance exercise) was associated with a 29 percent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which increases risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The risk of hypercholesterolemia was 32 percent lower. The results for both studies also were independent of aerobic exercise.