“DO YOU EVEN LIFT?”
I’m sure we’ve all heard that expression somewhere before! It’s a common line across the internet that of those people whose answer to this question is a yes, that’s great! Aside from the three other types of exercises most people are aware about, namely endurance, balance and flexibility exercises, strength and resistance training is also just as important. It’s not something you have to incorporate in your routine every day, but if you decide to throw it in there, The American Heart Association recommends strength and resistance training at least twice per week. And in case you didn’t know, weightlifting not only gives you muscles and a toned body ready for summer, but a healthy heart, too!
DROP IT LOW! (I MEAN DROP THE BLOOD PRESSURE, CHOLESTEROL, TRIGLYCERIDE.)
Researcher and professor of cardiovascular exercise science Scott Collier states that strength training is proven to lower one’s blood pressure. Your cardiovascular system has more places to put its blood in because your body is gaining lean muscle from weightlifting. The result is less pressure against your arterial walls, which basically just means lowered blood pressure.
Not only does weightlifting significantly lower your blood pressure, but also those fatty substances in your blood called cholesterol and triglycerides. When these levels get too high, they can clog your arteries and cause a heart attack or stroke. However, when you lift weights, the “good” cholesterol called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) functions better to protect you from heart disease.
FIGHT THAT FAT!
Dr. Timothy Miller, a sports medicine physician at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center also says that “by increasing lean body mass, or muscle, strength training speeds up the body’s metabolic rate.” In other words, there is an effect of decreasing the fatty tissue around the heart called visceral fat, which is strongly associated with cardiovascular disease and death no matter what the weight! As long as you’re getting older, you’re gaining the bad fat so better start as young as you are now!
Zzz’s FOR THE HEART
When you get a good night’s sleep, your heart appreciates it. Scott Collier’s research shows that those who performed strength and resistance exercises also slept better throughout the night than those who didn’t. However, depriving yourself of sleep puts you at risk of damaging your cardiovascular system due to the its effect of reduced metabolism that leads to increased fatty tissue around the heart. Tire yourself out from lifting and catch those zzz’s tonight. You’ll feel well-rested plus your heart will feel the effect!
Most of all, strength training could lead to a happier, healthier you because of the different hormones your body releases when you engage in physical activities like weightlifting. When the dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins kick in and start working together, it is guaranteed to make you feel good!
These are just some of the many benefits strength training has on your heart. You don’t need to train like a bodybuilder, but lifting a few pounds every now and then could already contribute to a healthier heart – and you don’t even have to do it all alone! Try to explore weightlifting with someone, may it be your husband, wife, partner or friend. There are various strength and resistance exercises that you can do with a partner. Lift those weights together to strengthen your heart and your relationships! Your heart will appreciate it.