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Gain better heart health through strength training

Exercises that build strength can benefit the heart more than aerobic activities, such as walking and cycling, according to recent research. New research suggests that strength training is the best exercise for heart health.

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. The research was undertaken by Dr. Maia P. Smith (and colleagues), an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at St. George's University in Grenada.

According to Dr, Smith, "Both strength training and aerobic activity appeared to be heart healthy, even in small amounts, at the population level."  Furthermore, she noted that, static activity appeared more beneficial than dynamic."  The findings also revealed that those who engaged in both kinds of activity "fared better" than those who just increased the amount of only one type.

In addition, any amount of either kind of exercise brings benefits.  It appears to be more beneficial to do both than to increase either.

The study was featured at the 2018 American College of Cardiology Latin America Conference that took place last week in Lima, Peru.

Recommended amounts and type of exercise

The American Heart Association guidelines recommend that adults in the United States 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 doing exercise that strengthens the muscles, such as resistance or weight training. People should do this on at least 2 days per week.
The AHA notes that even greater benefits accrue from 300 minutes of exercise per week.

In addition, breaking up prolonged bouts of sitting — even getting up and doing some light activity is better than just sitting, according to the guidelines.

Recommendations for older adults

The Go4Life program  from the National Institute of Aging (NIA), which is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), advises older adults to do four types of exercise:

•  Endurance, or aerobic, exercises that increase breathing and raise heart rate.
•  Strength, or resistance, exercises that strengthen major muscle groups in the upper and lower body and improve their function.
•  Balance exercises to reduce the risk of falls and the disabilities that they can cause.
•  Flexibility exercises that stretch the body and increase a person's range of movement.

Aerobic activity includes walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, gardening and all forms of sports, such as golf, tennis, and volleyball.

Push-ups, static rowing, resistance training, dips, arm and leg raises, and hand grips are all examples of strength-building exercises.

Practicing Tai Chi and yoga can improve balance and flexibility as can simple exercises that involve the use the body or everyday objects, such as a chair.