weight training and heart health

Weight Training and Heart Health: A Comprehensive Overview

Weight training and heart health — a comprehensive overview.

By Coach Hunter Bennett

Weight training is most often associated with building muscle and strength. However, it also plays a significant role in heart health.

In this article we explain how and why weight training reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and improves overall heart health.

Effects of weight training on the cardiovascular system

weight training and heart health

During a weight training session, your body responds in several ways:

  1. Increased Heart Rate: Like aerobic exercise, weight training causes a rise in heart rate (just generally less pronounced). This increase in heart rate helps pump blood and oxygen to the working muscles to meet increased energy demands, which creates cardiovascular adaptations.
  2. Blood Pressure Changes: Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure can rise significantly during lifting, particularly during heavy lifts. Although these changes are short-lived and return to normal post-exercise, they are one of the key reasons behind weight training and heart health.
  3. Enhanced Blood Flow: Weight training enhances blood flow to the muscles involved in the exercise. This increased circulation improves nutrient delivery and waste removal, supporting performance, recovery, and health.
  4. Vascular Responses: The vascular system adapts to weight training by dilating blood vessels (vasodilation) to accommodate increased blood flow. This process also improves circulation and oxygen delivery around the body, linking weight training and heart health directly.

Weight training and heart health: cardiovascular disease

Regular weight training can have a huge impact on heart health and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases:

  1. Reduction in Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: Weight training helps reduce several risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. It also increases HDL (good cholesterol) and reduces LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
  2. Improved Heart Function: Consistent weight training enhances the efficiency of the heart. It can lead to a stronger heart, contributing to better heart function and reduced workload during rest.
  3. Blood Pressure Regulation: While blood pressure rises acutely during weight training, regular participation can lead to long-term reductions in resting blood pressure. This effect is particularly beneficial for individuals with hypertension, and can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  4. Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Weight training enhances insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for managing blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  5. Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight through weight training helps mitigate the risk of cardiovascular disease. Not only does weight training burn energy, but muscle mass increases metabolic rate, which can make it easier to keep the weight you lose off.
  6. Inflammation Reduction: Chronic inflammation is a known contributor to cardiovascular disease. Regular weight training can reduce inflammatory markers in the body, which can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  7. Improved Endothelial Function: Weight training improves endothelial function, which refers to how well the inner lining of your blood vessels perform their role. Enhanced endothelial function leads to better vascular health and lower risk of atherosclerosis.
  8. Psychological Benefits: Weight training can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, which are known to negatively affect heart health. As such, weight training can also impact heart health by improving mental health.

How much weight training for heart health?

Weight training and heart health

The good news is that you don’t have do a huge amount of weight training for heart health.

In fact, evidence has shown that you obtain most of the cardiovascular benefits from ~60 minutes of weight training per week.

While doing more us important to maximise strength, increase muscle mass, and enhance other aspects of health and function (i.e., improve bone density), 60 minutes is more than enough to reduce cardiovascular risk.

Weight training and heart health: conclusion

As little as 60 minutes of weight training per week can have a powerful effect on your heart health, while playing a key role staving off cardiovascular disease.

If you are not sure where to start, check out some of our programs or feel free to contact us for more information.

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