February is the month for Valentine’s Day and all things heart-shaped – and it’s also American Heart Month!
Keeping a healthy heart isn’t just about running. Strength training yields significant cardiovascular system benefits and can reduce the risk of heart disease and other conditions. So get pumped to keep your heart pumping!
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 a 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 daily living tasks (dressing, walking, carrying groceries, etc.) to sports performance. Moderate intensity dynamic workouts like gym circuit training with short rest intervals, will strengthen and tone the body and provide aerobic benefit.
Current health and fitness standards recommend strength training 2 to 3 times per week using resistance (weights, resistance bands or body weight) that you can lift for 8 to15 repetitions for 2 to 3 sets and working all of the major muscle groups (legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms, core).
So what will you get for the effort?
- Improves muscle strength
- Increases bone density & 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 increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which simply means more calories burned on a daily basis. It’s a workout that keeps on working for you all day long!
- Reduces resting blood pressure (particularly diastolic, DBP)
- Lowers 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 Day! Whether you’re new to exercise or a fitness buff, incorporate 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 beneficial, 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).
Authored By: Jana Sanford, CoreFitnessByJana
Jana is a certified Personal Trainer and Pilates Instructor with specializations in orthopedic exercise for injury prevention and recovery, in-home fitness and sport conditioning. As a former corporate exec and business traveler, Jana focuses on providing cost and time effective fitness solutions for corporate and individual wellness.
In addition to her private and small group classes in New York City, Jana provides online Pilates, Body Sculpting, Conditioning, Boot Camp and 1 Minute In-Office workouts at CoreFitnessByJana.com. Jana’s short modular workouts were designed to address the fitness needs of time constrained individuals and can be done anywhere as they require no equipment.