Is Weightlifting Good for Your Heart?
When you think of ways to improve or maintain a healthy heart, cardiovascular exercise often comes to mind. It is true that walking, running, or participating in cardiovascular activities can improve your circulation and overall heart health. However, a new study shows that another form of exercise may also help people maintain the health of their hearts and prevent serious cardiovascular events later.
Weight Lifting Linked to Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Events
A recent study conducted at Iowa State University shows that weight lifting can greatly reduce one’s risk of stroke or heart attack. The study focused on nearly 13,000 men and women at the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. The researchers focused on three health outcomes: Cardiovascular events that did not result in death, cardiovascular events resulting in death, and any type of death. What the study found was that weight lifting helped to reduce the risk of all three. In fact, participants who lifted weights for less than one hour per week reduced their risk of a cardiovascular event by 40 to 70 percent. They also learned that spending more than an hour per week in the gym did not necessarily produce more health benefits to the participant.
This study was one of the first to research how resistance exercise could affect one’s risk of heart disease. The results showed that activities like weight lifting could have unique benefits for the heart that are independent of aerobic exercises like running and walking, both of which are typically recommended to promote heart health.
How Can Weight Lifting Improve Heart Health?
Many believe that the links between exercise and heart health are entirely due to weight loss. Contrary to this belief, while weight loss can help individuals prevent diabetes and avoid extra strain on their hearts, it is not the only way that resistance exercise such as weight lifting can help people avoid a heart attack or stroke in the future. Weight lifting helps to prevent eventual serious heart conditions by benefitting the following:
- Blood Pressure: Moderate-intensity strength training, even in small doses, has been proven to lower blood pressure significantly. Because high blood pressure is a common cause of heart attacks, maintaining a healthy blood pressure level is a great way to avoid possible cardiovascular events.
- Cholesterol Levels: High cholesterol can eventually clog arteries and cause a stroke or heart attack. However, weight lifting and strength training can help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- Quality of Sleep: Getting enough sound sleep is a vital part of everyone’s heart health, as a lack of sleep leads to inflammation throughout the entire body. It can also lead to insulin sensitivity and a slower metabolism. Performing resistance exercises can help people enjoy a higher quality of sleep. In fact, those who lift weights during their day are known to wake up fewer times throughout the night compared to those who did not. This is especially true for those who lift weights in the evening.
Weight lifting has shown positive results for people’s heart health. However, because of the nature of resistance exercise, it is important to consult your doctor before beginning weight lifting activities. If you have questions about your heart health and what exercise may be right for you, ask the experts at The CardioVascular Group.