A study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that doing resistance training for about an hour each week could cut your heart attack risk or stroke risk by 40 to 70 percent.
Regularly doing resistance training or strength training exercise has been shown to provide metabolic benefits, such as fat loss and enhanced blood sugar control. Researchers believe that resistance training can support weight maintenance and good metabolic health because of its ability to utilize energy that would otherwise be stored as fat. Building muscles, even without doing any aerobic exercise, burns more energy and helps prevent obesity as well as provides long-term health benefits.
For the study, researchers from Iowa State University looked at the effects of resistance training on three health outcomes: cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke that did not lead to death; all cardiovascular events including death; and death due to any causes.
Looking at the data of almost 13,000 adults, the researchers found that doing resistance training one to three times, or a total of one hour, each week significantly reduced deaths from any cause and the overall prevalence of 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 five minutes could be effective,” said Duck-Chul Lee, one of the authors of the study.
Resistance training better than aerobic exercise for heart health
Another study has reported that resistance training is good for the heart. The study found that it supports heart health more than aerobic exercises, such as walking and cycling.
Researchers from St. George’s University in Grenada analyzed data on more than 4,000 adults in the U.S. from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They looked at how cardiovascular risk factors (such as high cholesterol levels, overweight, elevated blood pressure, and diabetes) were affected by either a static activity (such as resistance training) or a dynamic one (such as walking or cycling).
Then, they adjusted the results for age, gender, ethnicity, and smoking status and looked at the results in two age groups: 21-44 years (younger adults) and over 45 years (older adults). Results showed that 36 percent of younger adults reported doing resistance training, while only 25 percent of the older adults reported doing this type of exercise. For dynamic exercise, 28 percent of the younger adults reported doing dynamic exercise compared to 21 percent of the older adults.
Results of the study revealed that doing either dynamic or static exercise led to a 30 to 70 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
While resistance training appeared to be more beneficial than dynamic exercise, the researchers also found that those who reported doing both types of exercises fared better than those who just increased the amount of only one type. (Related: Cardio or strength training? You need both, as each affects the body differently, according to study.)
The findings of the study were presented at the 2018 American College of Cardiology Latin America Conference in Lima, Peru.