Strength training comes out on top over cardio for heart health
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
It has long been accepted and taught that regular cardiovascular workouts are good for cardiovascular health. And they are. But a new study asserts that regular strength training is even better for your heart than more aerobic activities like walking and cycling.
A survey of 4,000 adults revealed that static activity, such as strength training, had stronger links to reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases than dynamic activity, such as walking and cycling. But before you tell your patients to hang up their walking shoes and park their bikes in favor of free weights and dumbbells, keep reading.
The researchers also point out that both types of exercise have heart health benefits and people should have a workout routine that includes both. "Both strength training and aerobic activity appeared to be heart healthy, even in small amounts, at the population level," said Dr. Maia P. Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at St. George's University in Grenada.
So even though static activity appeared more beneficial than dynamic activity, people who do both fared best overall.
The study was featured at the 2018 American College of Cardiology Latin America Conference that took place last month in Lima, Peru.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), accepted guidelines recommend that adults should be physically active for at least 150 minutes each week. This activity should consist of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, or a combination. It is better to spread the exercise across the week than complete it all in 1 or 2 days.
The guidelines also advise participating in activities that strengthen the muscles, such as resistance or weight training. People should do this on at least 2 days per week.
Dr. Smith and her research colleagues used data from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on 4,086 adults in the U.S. This included information that individuals voluntarily provided about types of physical activity and the presence of cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, being overweight, having high cholesterol and/or diabetes.
Interestingly, only around 1 in 5 adults and teens in the U.S. even meet the recommended 150 minutes per week of "heart-pumping" activity, says the AHA. So while strength training may have a slight edge over cardio training, it’s most important that people just get out and exercise.
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