Monday, December 3, 2018

Strength Training Bests Aerobics for Cardioprotection

Static exercise, such as strength training, might be superior to dynamic exercise, such as walking or cycling, for conferring protection against cardiovascular disease (CVD), new research suggests.

Using data for the 2005/06 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), Maia P. Smith, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, St. George’s University, West Indies, found that 36% of adults 21 to 44 years of age and 25% of adults older than 45 years engaged in static activity, compared with 28% and 21%, respectively, of adults engaging in dynamic activity.

Although both activities were associated with 30% to 70% lower rates of CVD risk factors, the associations were strongest in the static activity group. “In over 4000 American adults from a representative sample, I found that static activity – strength training – appeared more cardioprotective than dynamic activity – in this case walking and biking,” Smith told Medscape Cardiology.

“The odds of having a given risk factor – hypertension, overweight/obesity, diabetes, or high cholesterol – were between one-third and two-thirds lower for those who engaged in static activity that for those who engaged in no activity, but although dynamic activity wasn’t as good as static, it still had some benefits, especially for [those who were] overweight,” she said.

Commenting on the study, Richard C. Becker, MD, professor of medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, noted that the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, highlight moderate-intensity aerobic activity of at least 150 minutes per week and muscle-strengthening activity 2 days per week.

The new guidelines “target not only cardiovascular health but also brain health, reducing chronic conditions, community engagement, and reducing the cost of care from seven of the 10 most common preventable diseases,” he said.

My Take:
The new guidelines seem like a lot of exercise but it’s only 30 minutes of aerobics, five days a week and two sessions of weight lifting, also lasting about 30 minutes each. I recommend doubling up the aerobics and dynamic activity once or twice a week to give yourself 1-2 days of rest each week as well.

I suspect the aerobic activity would show more cardioprotective benefit if the intensity was greater and varied. Walking and biking don’t raise the heart rate up high enough to make the heart muscle work hard enough. Adding intervals of jogging to the walk could easily create a workout that combines aerobic and anaerobic activity in one exercise.

In a similar vein, taking a cycling class rather than just cruising around on your bike adds intensity. The instructor typically will modulate the intensity to bring your heart rate up and down over the course of 45 to 60 minutes.

Bottom Line:
If you haven’t added strength training to your regular exercise routine, please do so. I highly recommend you start with a trainer to avoid injury and learn proper lifting technique. Personally, I have been working with a trainer for the past six months and I am really pleased with the results.

November 23, 2018 NIH

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