Strength Training for Heart Health

Endurance training used to be the default for those wanting to strengthen their heart, improve their circulation and protect themselves from illness. However, recent research shows that strength training also provides the desired effect.

For a long time, the heart protection provided by machine-based muscle training went almost unnoticed. However, there is increased scientific evidence that shows that strength training is beneficial not just for our musculoskeletal and metabolic systems, but for the cardiovascular system as well. As a result, strength training is now regarded as an essential part of prevention and rehabilitation programs for clients with cardiovascular problems. 

Increasing muscle efficiency reduces the strain on the heart

Trained muscles provide more support for the body and its movements, thus the body becomes more efficient. Trained muscles, unlike untrained ones, need to activate fewer fibres which means that increases in pulse rate and blood pressure are less. Strong muscles can also protect the heart by reducing the strain on the heart in daily life.

A strong heart improves performance

Studies have shown that regular strength training also improves endurance by improving oxygen intake. The left ventricle fills more quickly and so the stroke volume is increased. At the same time, the resting heart rate – an indicator for endurance fitness – is lower. In addition, strength training improves the absorption of blood sugar into the muscles. For those with diabetes, this improves metabolic control and reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Endurance training versus strength training

In contrast to endurance training, moderate strength training puts less strain on the cardiovascular system. The heart rate and hormonal stress levels remain lower and even the increase in blood pressure is only moderate (and less than during endurance training), provided we observe the following rules; avoid forced exhalation, do each exercise slowly and without jerking, do 9 – 12 repetitions at medium intensity and don’t clench the fists excessively. 

Strength training performed correctly is good for the heart and a valuable complement to endurance sport. 

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