Weight training is the fastest growing exercise activity in the United States with 35.5 million participants, this according to a National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) survey. We explore research, articles, opinions and products to further increase the participation rates of strength training in the World.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Weight Lifting Helps Heart, Drops Blood Pressure

NEW YORK, Feb 17 (Reuters Health) -- Pumping iron isn't just for bodybuilders. A panel of experts at the American Heart Association (AHA) reports that weight training is a good way to improve heart health, even for some people with heart disease. Weight training can be a part of a healthy exercise routine that also includes regular aerobic exercise, according to a report. The study findings, scheduled to be published in the February 22nd issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, are being released early. In addition, study findings in the February issue of Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association support the advisory, showing that weight training can reduce resting blood pressure. "Mild-to-moderate resistance training can provide an effective method for improving muscular strength and endurance, preventing and managing a variety of chronic medical conditions, modifying coronary risk factors and enhancing psychosocial well-being," Dr. Barry A. Franklin, of William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, and a multicenter panel note in the AHA scientific advisory. In an interview with Reuters Health, Franklin said that weight training can improve cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. In addition, weight training may improve the way the body processes sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes, he said. Franklin said that numerous studies have documented the safety of moderate weight training in healthy adults and some people with heart disease. However, Franklin said the panel does not advise weight training for patients with chest pain due to unstable angina, uncontrolled high blood pressure, uncontrolled irregular heartbeats, heart failure, and severe heart-valve disease. For healthy people, the panel recommends lifting weights 2 to 3 days per week. The panel notes that a single set of exercises can provide almost as much benefit as several sets, so to make it easier to set aside time to exercise, it recommends a single set of 8 to 10 exercises during each session. This should take from 20 to 30 minutes. For people with cardiovascular disease who are considered to be at low risk for heart attacks and other complications, the panel recommends beginning with stretching and flexibility exercises and gradually moving on to light weights. People with heart disease should begin a weight-training program only under the supervision of a physician. Despite the recommendation that low-risk cardiac patients perform weight-training exercises, the panel concludes it is too soon to advise moderate- and high-risk individuals to lift weights until more studies are conducted, since the exertion could be dangerous. In a review of 11 studies on the effect of weight training on blood pressure, Dr. George A. Kelley and Kristi Sharpe Kelley, both of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, found that lifting weights can reduce resting blood pressure. The reductions were similar in people who lifted heavier weights with long rests in between sets and in those who lifted lighter weights but took shorter rests. Although the reductions in blood pressure were small, they might lead to a lower risk of stroke and heart disease, according to the report. The review also found that weight training reduced body fat and increased muscle mass. The researchers note, however, that studies involving only people with high blood pressure are needed to test the effects of weight training as a treatment for the condition. http://www.personalmd.com/news/n0217074612.shtml

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