Pumping Iron Good for the Ol' Pump
It's not for everybody, though, according to the advisory. Franklin says the
recommendations are safe for healthy people, meaning people who may have had a
heart attack but are otherwise not experiencing any symptoms, such as chest
pain or shortness of breath.
"Weight training can lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke
by lowering the LDL "bad" cholesterol, raising the HDL "good"
cholesterol and reducing blood pressure, Franklin tells WebMD. It can also
reduce the potential for the development of diabetes by improving the
metabolism of blood sugar.
In the Hypertension study, led by George A. Kelley, DA, researchers reviewed
data from 11 studies and found that weight training reduced blood pressure by
up to 4%. Kelley is director of the meta-analytic research group at Northern
Illinois University in DeKalb.
And for the elderly, weight training can help stave off osteoporosis and
help maintain the ability to carry out daily activities, Franklin says.
Kelley agrees: "I think people in general see it [weight training] as
something to increase strength and muscle mass, and now they're hearing more
about it possibly improving bone density ... and it may improve your [risk of
having a heart attack or stroke].
Kelley says currently, though, only 16% of adults between the ages of 18 and
64 in the U.S. participate in progressive resistance exercise at least twice a
- The American Heart Association reports that adding 10 minutes of weight
lifting to a regular exercise routine can help the heart work more efficiently
and may even lower blood pressure. For the elderly, weight lifting can help
fight osteoporosis as well.
- The organization adds that doing between eight and 12 different exercises
for just one set of eight to 15 repetitions each is enough to see these
benefits. Weight lifting should be done two or three times a week, in addition
to aerobic exercise.
- Other medical groups have made similar claims but stressed multiple sets of
exercise. This recommendation is based on studies demonstrating most of the
benefits can be achieved from the one-set regimen.