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How weight lifting is shown to cut heart risks

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Study shows weight lifting can curb metabolic syndrome and heart disease.

Aerobic exercise has well-documented heart health benefits. But a new study finds weight lifting is another way to keep your heart healthy by controlling factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome risks lower with resistance training

Heart disease, diabetes and stroke are conditions brought about by metabolic syndrome that includes large waist circumference, high triglyceride levels, insulin resistance and high blood pressure.

For their study, researcher from Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida, Jacksonville scientists analyzed data from 5, 618 adults enrolled in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that is a national study of health risk factors.

Researchers asked the participants whether they lifted weights, which was more common among men and younger people. After age 50, lifting weights became less frequent. People in the study received fasting blood samples.

The researchers compared blood work results between the weight lifting group and those who did not lift weights for markers of metabolic syndrome. The results showed a 37% reduction in the chances of metabolic syndrome that leads to cardiovascular disease.

Benefits of resistance training not just about the heart

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Study authors Peter M. Magyari, PhD, HFS, CSCS, and James R. Churilla, PhD, MPH, MS, RCEP, CSCS, FACSM of Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida, Jacksonville concluded health care and exercise professionals should encourage weight lifting activity in adults of all ages – especially women, low-income individuals and Mexican-Americans who are at high risk for metabolic syndrome.

The study didn’t address what type of weight lifting activity the participants engaged in, but past studies have shown resistance training can increase strength for older adults up to 30% - an important factor for maintaining independence with aging.

Even people over age 50 can regain muscle mass that is lost with aging through resistance training.

Speak with your doctor before you start any exercise program, especially if you’ve been sedentary. If you want to control your weight, cholesterol levels, prevent diabetes and keep blood pressure lower - but are incapable of (or dislike) aerobic exercise - you might want to speak with your doctor about starting a weight lifting program that should also be guided by a certified personal trainer.

A combination of aerobics and resistance traininghas also been shown to be superior for controlling diabetes. The new finding shows weight lifting can keep cardiovascular health intact and may be good disease prevention for cutting heart risks brought about by metabolic syndrome.

Wolters Kluwer Health
October 2, 2012

Image credit: Morguefile