How resistance training can lower heart disease risks
When people are looking to tone and strengthen their muscles, they immediately think “weight lifting.” So why do we shy away from weights when it comes to maintaining the most important muscle in our body – our heart?
A study from the American Heart Association shows that resistance training can be an effective way to not only prevent but help treat heart disease. In both men and women, with and without heart disease, results of the study showed that weight training increases sensitivity to insulin and reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and overall body fat.
Researchers also found that resistance training can even increase the thickness of the walls of the heart.
Steven Gasser, a personal trainer at Advocate Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., says, “At any age, the benefits of resistance training are great.”
People who train with weights increase muscular strength and endurance, he says. This is especially important for the elderly population when it comes to maintaining a healthy heart. It also creates a sense of independence by making household tasks such as taking out the trash or lifting grocery bags an easy feat.
Gasser says weight training also increases overall balance, and increases bone density.
He recommends that when beginning a weight training program at a fitness center to ask for an orientation on the weight machines. He urges those with a medical history to get approval from their physician before starting any exercise routine.
With a plan and a little preparation, he says, you too can make yourself at home in the weight room and get down to pumping up that heart.
“Try incorporating resistance exercises such as bench press or leg press into your routine just twice a week (adding a third day when you are comfortable) and you’ll be surprised just how good it makes you feel,” he says. “Regular resistance training will enhance your ability in other aerobic exercises and make fitness more enjoyable.”
Gasser adds that the most important thing about weight training is “always remember to breathe.”
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.