Heart Disease: Strength Training to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease. Find out how strength training can help prevent heart disease.
Working in the City of London often means long hours, high consumption of alcohol, travel, high stress and taking the time to take care of yourself is put aside as a second thought. When we think of cardiovascular health, aerobic exercises like running or cycling often come to mind. However, strength training, typically associated with building muscles and enhancing physical strength, also plays a vital role in maintaining heart health. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of strength training for preventing cardiovascular disease.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Strength training has been shown to effectively reduce blood pressure levels. A meta-analysis of 54 studies revealed that resistance training resulted in significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults with hypertension . Regular strength training improves blood vessel function, enhances blood flow, and reduces arterial stiffness, ultimately contributing to a healthier cardiovascular system.
Strength training can positively impact lipid profiles, another critical aspect of cardiovascular health. Research has indicated that resistance exercise, when combined with aerobic exercise, leads to favorable changes in lipid levels. It can increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, commonly referred to as "good cholesterol," and decrease levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as "bad cholesterol" . This shift in lipid profile reduces the risk of plaque formation in arteries and lowers the chances of developing atherosclerosis.
Insulin resistance and impaired glucose metabolism are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Strength training has been found to improve insulin sensitivity, promoting efficient glucose uptake by the muscles. A study involving individuals with type 2 diabetes demonstrated that resistance training increased insulin sensitivity and improved glycemic control . By reducing insulin resistance, strength training reduces the likelihood of developing diabetes and subsequently lowers the risk of cardiovascular complications.
Excess body weight is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Strength training, in conjunction with a balanced diet, can aid in weight management and weight loss. Resistance exercises help build lean muscle mass, which elevates basal metabolic rate and facilitates calorie burning, even at rest . This increased calorie expenditure assists in fat loss, reducing the strain on the cardiovascular system, and promoting a healthier weight range.
Contrary to popular belief, strength training is not solely about building muscles; it also strengthens the heart muscle. Regular resistance training improves cardiac function, enhances myocardial oxygen utilization, and increases the efficiency of the heart's pumping action. Stronger heart muscles reduce the workload on the cardiovascular system, lowering the risk of heart disease and related conditions .
While aerobic exercises are typically associated with cardiovascular health, incorporating strength training into your fitness routine can provide additional benefits. From lowering blood pressure and improving lipid profiles to enhancing insulin sensitivity and promoting weight management, strength training has a profound impact on preventing cardiovascular disease. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness trainer to develop a safe and effective strength training program that suits your individual needs and abilities.
1. Cornelissen, V. A., & Smart, N. A. (2013). Exercise training for blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2(1), e004473.
2. Balducci, S., Zanuso, S., Nicolucci, A., Fernando, F., Cavallo, S., Cardelli, P., ... & Pugliese, G. (2010). Effect of an intensive exercise intervention strategy on modifiable cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial: the Italian Diabetes and Exercise Study (IDES).