The next time you head to the gym, you might not want to stroll right by the weight room in favor of the treadmill. The reason? Curling those biceps and lunging with dumbbells, among other things, are great ways to get stronger and burn fat. But the benefits of weight lifting don’t stop there. Weight training can also improve your heart health — even after just one session. Here’s how.
The importance of weight lifting for heart health
If you’ve been working to improve your heart health, you might already know that aerobic exercise is great for your cardiovascular system. That’s why they call that type of exercise “cardio,” right? But lifting weights is just as important for making your heart healthier.
For starters, lifting weights builds muscle. That extra muscle gives the blood in your body more places to travel. In turn, this reduces the pressure that the blood puts on your artery walls. Your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump that blood around your body, which lowers your blood pressure. And when you lower your blood pressure, you lessen your risk of developing issues like diabetes or having a heart attack.
Weight training can also reduce the amount of fat around your heart — its presence is strongly tied to heart disease and death. When you build muscle by lifting weights, your metabolism speeds up and burns more fat even when you’re not being active. While it’s doing this, it gets rid of extra fat tissue around your heart and midsection.
Benefits start with one session of weight lifting
It’s clear that lifting weights is important for improving your heart health, but how often do you have to do it? While it’s great to incorporate this training into your workout routine several times a week, you can see heart-health benefits after just one session. Yes, really!
Doing just one resistance-training routine gets more blood flowing through your body because it widens your blood vessels. In addition, researchers have found that lifting weights lowers your blood pressure for longer following a workout than aerobic exercise does.
Weight training can even limit your risk of developing complications related to Type 2 diabetes. It doesn’t only help you lose weight and lower your risk of heart disease — which are both crucial for people with diabetes. One session of lifting weights improves the way your body uses insulin and can lower your blood sugar at the same time.
Maintaining your momentum
To see the most heart-health benefits from lifting weights, make strength training a regular part of your workout routine. One session is a great start. Ideally, you should aim for two or three sessions per week to work all the different muscle groups in your body and give them time to recover. Always discuss your plans with your doctor first to ensure you’re healthy enough to lift weights. You might also consider working with a personal trainer to learn proper techniques for lifting, stretching, warming up and cooling down.
If you’re thinking about adding weight lifting to your workout routine, now is a great time to start. Give us a call at 513-952-5000 today to make an appointment with a primary care doctor or specialist. We’ll work with you to figure out what type of exercise and how much of it can help you lead a healthier lifestyle.