February is not only the month of Valentine's and all things heart shaped, it's also American Heart Month , so I wanted to give you some info on keeping a happy and healthy heart through strength training.
Most medical and fitness experts would agree that aerobic exercise such as running, walking, cycling and swimming is the most important for building and maintaining healthy heart and lungs, however, recent research including studies published by the CDC and the Journal of The American Heart Association indicate that strength training not only enhances the effects of aerobic exercise but also has its own unique heart health benefits.
Strength training improves overall health of the heart and lungs for all age groups, while also increasing functional capacity for everything from tasks of daily living (dressing, walking, carrying groceries, etc.) to sports performance. So get pumped to keep that heart pumping!
I'm not talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger body building and bulging muscles. Moderate intensity dynamic workouts, like gym circuit training, with high reps and short rest intervals will strengthen and tone the body and provide aerobic benefit.
Current health and fitness standards recommend strength training 2-3 times per week using resistance (weights, resistance bands or body weight) that you can lift for 8-15 reps for 2-3 sets and working all of the major muscles groups (legs, arms, back, chest).
So what will you get for the effort?
- Improves muscle strength
- Increases bone density & thus reduces risks of osteoporosis
- Increases lean muscle mass:
Maintaining lean tissue, muscle, requires more energy even while asleep, than does fat. By building a higher ratio of muscle to fat, the body burns more calories even while at rest. Strength training, by building lean muscle tissue, increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which simply means more calories burned on a daily basis. Its a workout that keeps on working for you all day long!
- Reduces resting blood pressure (particularly diastolic, DBP)
- Can reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL (good cholesterol) thus decreasing risk factors for heart disease
- Improves glucose metabolism reducing a key risk factor for diabetes
- Promotes posture and balance, reducing risk of injury
- Reduces stress which in turn can improve sleep
Love thyself this Valentine's! Whether you're new to exercise or a fitness buff, incorporate some strength training for a healthy heart and a stronger, fitter you!
As with all exercise regimens, before starting something new, consult with your health care professionals. While strength training is generally AWESOME, it may not be appropriate for some individuals and health conditions (post injury, post surgery, high blood pressure, pregnancy and other conditions may be risk factors.)