(Source: Bruce Klemens)
(Source: Bruce Klemens)
We all know that resistance training (weightlifting, HIIT training) is good for our health. It increases muscular strength and endurance, decreases body fat, speeds up our metabolism, improves immune health, balances hormone production, and the list of benefits goes on and on.
The truth is that resistance training is more important than cardiovascular training. That statement may sound sacrilegious, but it’s true. You can improve cardiovascular endurance by resistance training, but you won’t increase muscular strength by doing more cardio.
And, as one study proved, resistance training can be amazing for your heart. A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia found that just one—that’s right, one—session of weight training is enough to reduce your risk of diabetes complications. Given that diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (people with diabetes have a four times higher chance of cardiovascular disease), the value of this discovery is clear.
The researchers gathered 35 students to participate in the study, dividing them into three groups: diabetics, exercisers without diabetes, and non-exercisers. All of the students performed the same twenty-minute warm-up, followed by a seven-minute high-intensity interval weight training program. After the seven-minute workout, the researchers tested the students to see the effects.
They found some impressive results: the students had greater blood vessel function after the workout, with the most significant improvement in the diabetes group. The increase in blood vessel function means a reduced risk of heart attack and an improvement in overall heart health.
Interestingly enough, the students also underwent a session of cardiovascular exercise (cycling on a stationary bike). The exercise did yield results, but nowhere near as visible as the resistance training. This goes to show that resistance training really is more important than cardio.
If you have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, or metabolic syndrome, it’s in your best interest to get active now. But don’t waste your time doing hours of cardio every week; instead, start mixing in the resistance training. As this study proved, even just a few minutes of interval-based weightlifting can lead to a huge improvement in your cardiovascular health.
You can always add cardio into the mix, but make your main priority resistance training—both interval-based and regular. The effort you expend on lifting weights and strengthening your muscles will never be wasted, and will lead to a healthier, happier you in the long run.
1. Christine Zeindler on January 11, 2017. “Pumping Iron Is Good for the Heart, UBC Researchers Show.” UBC’s Okanagan News. N.p., 16 Feb. 2017. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.