Saturday, October 19, 2013

TRAIN TO GAIN : Pump Up Heart Health Weight training does it! by Jerry Brainum

Most physicians tell patients that the best way to prevent cardiovascular disease is to exercise and follow a proper diet. For years the party line on diet mandated a drastic reduction in fat intake, with no specific suggestions for what type of fat to reduce. Later, saturated fat was indicted as the evil one that promoted cardiovascular disease.

Continuing research clearly shows that not all fats are created equal. What we now call the “good fats” include monounsaturated fat, such as that found in olive oil, and omega-3 fats, which are found in fatty fish and flaxseed. Such fats not only aren’t bad for the heart but appear to protect against cardiovascular disease as well.

A similar change has occurred in the way health professionals view exercise. While in the past most doctors believed that only aerobic exercise offered any benefits, recent research has shown that weight training can also provide significant preventive effects. A recent study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association is typical of the newer research.1

The study was part of a larger look at the health habits of 44,452 American health professionals who were monitored every two years to assess potential cardiovascular risk factors. In the follow-up, running, weight training and rowing exercise were inversely related to cardiovascular disease. Specifically, men who ran an hour or more each week showed a 42 percent risk reduction compared to inactive men. Men lifting weights 30 minutes or more each week showed a 23 percent risk reduction over men who didn’t lift weights. Rowing for one hour or more each week led to an 18 percent risk reduction compared to men who didn’t row. Just walking 30 minutes a day resulted in an 18 percent risk reduction.

But the most interesting finding of this study, besides the fact that weight training had positive cardiovascular-protective benefits, was that the most important aspect of exercise was intensity. Cardiovascular risk dropped as exercise intensity rose. Thus, according to this latest study, training harder is more important for cardiovascular health than training longer.

1 Tanasescu, M., et al. (2000). Exercise type and intensity in relation to coronary heart disease in man. JAMA. 288:1994-2000.

©,2013 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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