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Why strength training protects the heart
If people want to protect themselves from cardiovascular diseases, doing exercises with weights makes more sense than endurance training to reduce dangerous cardiac fat.
The University of Copenhagen's latest research found that weight training provides better cardiovascular disease protection than endurance exercise. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "JAMA Cardiology".
Sport generally protects against cardiovascular diseases
In a small group of obese participants, both types of training effectively reduced heart fat. Exercises with weights, such as lunges with dumbbells and exercises with your own body weight such as pushups, had the greatest influence. A certain type of heart fat was reduced by almost a third through a three-month exercise program that focused on lifting weights without endurance exercises.
How are heart diseases triggered?
Heart disease is most commonly caused by accumulation of fat in the arteries, which people can prevent through improved diet and exercise. Every third person a day worldwide dies from cardiovascular diseases. This corresponds to approximately 17.9 million people a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
How was the study structured?
For the study, 32 people were recruited who were obese and not exercising but who had no existing heart problems or had diabetes. Participants were randomly assigned to a 12-week program that included either strength training, endurance training on an exercise bike, or no change in activity. All participants underwent an MRI of their heart before and after the study to examine two types of cardiac tissue: the epicardial adipose mass and the pericardial adipose tissue.
Only strength training reduced the pericardial fat tissue
Both forms of training led to a reduction in epicardial fat compared to no training. Endurance sports reduced adipose tissue by 32 percent and weight training by 24 percent. However, the results also showed that only strength training affects the pericardial fat tissue. Compared to no workout, weight training reduced this fat by 31 percent. The study did not attempt to combine endurance and strength training.
Risks from special forms of fat
Both forms of fat increase the risk of heart disease. Epicardial adipose tissue is known to cause arteriosclerosis when plaque builds up in the artery walls and limits blood flow. On the other hand, too much pericardial adipose tissue can lead to hardening of the arteries and coronary artery disease, one of the most common causes of death worldwide. Overall, the results suggest that weight training appears to be superior to endurance training, since strength training reduces pericardial fat and improves fitness and strength, while endurance training only improves fitness. However, both training modalities were associated with a reduction in epicardial fat, which suggests that people can benefit from both training modalities. (as)
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Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Regitse Højgaard Christensen, Anne-Sophie Wedell-Neergaard, Louise Lang Lehrskov, Grit Elster Legaard, Emma Dorph et al .: Effect of Aerobic and Resistance Exercise on Cardiac Adipose Tissues, in JAMA Cardiology, JAMA Cardiology