Posted on Aug 19, 2019, 6 p.m.
While weight lifting may not be for everyone, incorporating weights into an exercise routine every once in a while may go a long way towards improving heart health, according to a recent study from Iowa State University, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
Lifting weights for less than one hour per week may help to lower the risk of stroke by 70% and the risk of heart attack by 40%; spending more than one hour did not appear to produce additional benefit in this study examining the effects of resistance exercise on risk for cardiovascular disease.
“People may think they need to spend a lot of time lifting weights, but just two sets of bench presses that take less than 5 minutes could be effective,” says lead author D.C. Lee, in a media release.
Most research has been focused on bone health and general quality of life in older adults, this is one of the first to investigate resistance training effects on cardiovascular disease risk. When it comes to cardiovascular health most think of aerobics like running or other cardio exercises, not often do older people think of lifting weights.
Findings suggest that even in the absence of additional cardio exercises such as walking or running, weight training can provide cardiological benefits; meaning that one may not have to meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic physical exercise to lower their risk of CVD.
Data was analyzed from close to 13,000 adults for health outcomes related to: 1) nonlethal cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attack, 2) lethal cardiovascular events and non-lethal cardiovascular events, and 3) any type of death in general. According to the study resistance exercises were found to have reduced the risk of all three health outcome groups.
It can be harder for people to fit weight lifting into their schedules, and most don’t have access to weight or weight machines at home. For those who are not gym people there are ways to get muscles involved in workouts in a variety of ways that are not traditionally associated with weight lifting.
“The results are encouraging, but will people make weight lifting part of their lifestyle? Will they do it and stick with it? That’s the million-dollar question. Lifting any weight that increases resistance on your muscles is the key. My muscle doesn’t know the difference if I’m digging in the yard, carrying heavy shopping bags or lifting a dumbbell. Muscle is the power plant to burn calories. Building muscle helps move your joints and bones, but also there are metabolic benefits. I don’t think this is well appreciated” says Lee.
The same dataset was used for further investigation to find that less than one hour per week of weight resistance training can help to lower risk of high cholesterol by 32%, and risk of metabolic syndrome by 29% which can lead to stroke or diabetes.
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