A few minutes of resistance training is all you need to lower your risk of CVD and diabetes
08/11/2019 // Zoey Sky // Views

Physical exercise is necessary for your overall health. According to a study, regular resistance training helps lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). A related study also suggests that having moderate muscle strength lowers Type 2 diabetes risk.

The two studies evaluated data from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study conducted at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. An ongoing cohort of the study is now called the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study.

According to the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, regular aerobic exercise helps lower your risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Meanwhile, the two studies suggest that resistance training or strength training can also significantly minimize your risk and boost overall well-being.

The link between strength training and heart health

A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reported that people who do strength training weekly have a 40 to 70 percent reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, or death. These results are true regardless of how much aerobic exercise they do. (Related: Inactive adults have an increased risk of early death, stroke, and heart attack.)

A related study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings showed that having moderate muscle strength can reduce Type 2 diabetes risk by 32 percent. This finding is also independent of a person's cardiovascular fitness levels.

Dr. Duck-Chul Lee, an associate professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University (ISU) and a co-author of both studies, says that the benefits of aerobic exercise for the heart are confirmed by several studies. Aerobic exercise is also said to lower heart attack or stroke risk.


On the other hand, not much is known about resistance training and its potential benefits. Lee noted that, based on their findings, resistance training alone (e.g., weight lifting) can lower the risk of heart disease. The benefits of strength exercises are also independent of running, walking, or other aerobic activity.

Resistance exercise, also called strength or weight training, involves any exercise that increases resistance on your muscles. If you're too busy to go to the gym, digging in your home garden or carrying heavy shopping bags can also be considered as resistance training.

Listed below are the different types of resistance training you can incorporate into your regular exercise program to boost your heart health.

  • Free weights (involves barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells)
  • Medicine balls or sandbags
  • Resistance bands
  • Suspension equipment
  • Weight machines

Muscular strength and Type 2 diabetes risk

Dr. Angelique Brellenthin, a co-author of the diabetes study, shared that further research is necessary to determine why higher strength and high amounts of resistance training didn't offer protective benefits against diabetes and heart disease.

For their study, Brellentin and her team observed a small subset of the Cooper Clinic dataset. At the start of the study, 4,681 volunteers did not have diabetes.

The volunteers took part in muscular strength tests and maximal treadmill exercise tests. After an average follow-up period of eight years, the researchers reported that 229 participants developed Type 2 diabetes.

They also found that the volunteers who had moderate muscle strength when the study began had a 32 percent reduced risk of developing diabetes. Brellenthin says that the study confirms one thing: Strength training, regardless of the duration of workout, offers many health benefits.

This doesn't mean aerobic exercise is less important than strength training.

Dr. Sarah Samaan, a cardiologist from Baylor Scott & White Legacy Heart Center, recommends that, instead of sacrificing aerobic exercise for resistance training, people incorporate both into their workout regimen.

Samaan explained that the two types of exercise should be considered complementary. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise lowers the risk of developing dementia, heart disease, and stroke. It also improves memory and overall health. Adding resistance exercise to aerobic activity can be beneficial for Type 2 diabetes patients.

Strength training also promotes weight loss. This is important because decreasing abdominal fat is another benefit of exercise that lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Samaan concluded that people need to exercise more. Most Americans are at risk of various health problems like hypertension and obesity due to inactivity.

If you want to lower your risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, incorporate both strength training and aerobic exercise into your workout routine.

Sources include:



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