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Is Lifting Weights Good or Bad For Your Heart ?

Resistance training, including lifting weights triggers a different type of response from your blood vessels than aerobic training, which suggests that it might have some important and specific benefits for your cardiovascular health. This has been proven by a great number of studies throughout recent decades. It has been repeatedly shown that resistance training has the potential to offer greater benefits coming from the increased amount of blood flow to your active muscles and is an excellent addition to an aerobic workout program.


The different types of blood flow responses after lifting weights vs aerobic training

Scientists compared the different blood vessel response to two types of exercising with moderate intensity. The first consisting of 8 resistance exercise, each done with 3 sets of 10 reps and the second being 30 minutes of aerobic cycling. The responses included widening of blood vessels caused by the increased blood flow and arterial stiffness, as opposed to distensibility.

The increased flow-mediated blood vessel dilation and lower arterial stiffness are the two main contributors to an optimal cardiovascular health. The vascular responses to these two types of training were dramatically different. Resistance training triggered an increased blood flow to the limbs, despite the fact that it caused a slight increase in central arterial stiffness.

Aerobic exercise, on the other hand, triggered an increase in arterial distensibility, or decreased arterial stiffness, only this time without a blood flow increase. Resistance training also produced a prolonged drop in blood pressure after training, compared to aerobic training. It has been argued that resistance training might produce so-called “compensatory peripheral vascular effects,” which delays the increase in arterial stiffness while maintaining relatively constant blood pressure levels.

The arterial stiffness of the central vessels like the aorta and the carotid arteries has begun to emerge as one of the key risks for cardiovascular disease. Aerobic training is still widely prescribed to people with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

There’s less evidence of the impact resistance training has on cardiovascular health. Studies have produced results which indicate that aerobic and resistance training produce the opposite effects on arterial stiffness while demonstrating that resistance training offers unique benefits on blood flow to the limbs and blood pressure.

Studies have shown that an intense period of resistance training has many of cardiovascular benefits and should definitely be incorporated into a daily training regimen. This is especially due to its ability to increase the blood flow to the muscles being trained, which makes it a valuable addition to an aerobic workout program. What’s more, this can be of great help to women, as they can use the benefits that resistance training provides to prevent and/or treat osteoporosis.


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