How often do you work out with weights? Weight lifting is a compound move that can increase your overall strength and help to build muscle. But that’s not all. Lifting weights has many hidden benefits for your heart. If you want to do a little extra for your heart then throwing weights in your daily routine is easy.
Today we’ll be talking about what happens to your heart when you lift weights every day. Does it improve circulation? What about reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease? We’re discussing all that and more.
Want to decrease cholesterol?
Then lifting weights can help. Around 610,000 people die from heart disease in the United States alone per year. Men and women are equally affected by heart problems, coronary artery disease being the most common. The coronary artery is the main heart artery that carries freshly oxygenated blood to the heart. A buildup of LDL or bad cholesterol can cause plaque in the coronary artery. This is called dyslipidemia.
Smoking, fatty food, obesity, and high blood pressure are other reasons that obstruct the smooth flow of blood in the arteries. HDL is the good cholesterol that your body needs. Weightlifting decreases LDL and increases HDL. It also reduces triglyceride and total cholesterol count. Adding high-intensity or moderate-intensity weight training gives similar results. It will help to dislodge plaque and prevent heart attacks.
Weights are great for heart patients.
Folks who have recently suffered from a heart episode often get told to not lift anything more than 5 to 10 pounds. They are just told to do mild aerobic exercise like walking to prevent exertion. Doctors are now recommending faster cardiac rehabilitation through resistance and strength training. Patients with congestive heart failure, heart transplantation, and heart muscle weakness can typically benefit from lifting weights.
Current research shows weight training after a heart attack speeds up the recovery process. A short rest interval with the addition of aerobic exercise works best. This can help you to do daily activities easier so you can lead an independent life quickly. But the weight lifting exercises should strictly be performed under medical supervision only. So stay motivated and perform strength exercises to keep your heart healthy in the future.
Lifting safeguards you from cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular diseases are a group of heart-related diseases like arrhythmia, peripheral artery disease, atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure, and hypertension. Physical inactivity leads to approximately 3 billion yearly deaths globally. It is the fourth leading risk factor for death worldwide. Increased physical activity has been related to decreased heart disease.
Weightlifting has a therapeutic and protective effect on your heart. It increases blood viscosity. It also helps in preventing the clotting of platelets allowing blood to pass freely without any obstruction through your arteries. More nitric oxide is produced in your system when you lift more weight. This dilates the arteries and makes sure that your heart gets enough blood. Enhanced circulation supplies more nutrients to your tissues. You can improve the circulation of your lower body by doing leg presses while lateral pulldowns and seated rows improve circulation in your back. You can even use your own body weight in exercises like pushups and get all the desired benefits for the heart. These exercises don’t just increase the blood flow in your system but also make you brawny.
Weightlifting can also counteract age-related changes in the heart and keep it beating healthily. Don’t go for an all-or-nothing policy. You can start from the lowest level and increase the intensity steadily.
Ever heard about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?
Let me explain. Your heart is a muscle just like any other muscle of your body. Let’s say like the biceps or glutes. It is made up of four chambers that pump blood continuously. The upper two chambers are called atria while the bottom two are called ventricles. When you lift weights your arms become bigger. This is because the muscle cells grow after tearing and repairing.
Cardiac muscles are different from skeletal muscles. You certainly wouldn’t want your heart muscle to grow. But in some rare conditions, it does happen. It is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It can also be referred to as the thickening of the heart walls. The reason for this is genetic changes that are beyond human control. Your ventricles can quickly get affected by it. So if you have this condition and are still lifting weights or doing muscle-targeted workouts, your cardiovascular system could get disturbed. It may push blood out of your heart very quickly and cause the peripheral blood pressure to rise. But don’t be afraid of elevated blood pressure. It’s only temporary and in fact, can be beneficial in your condition. According to a study, doing five sets of weight training can lower the blood pressure in people with thickened heart walls in the long run.
Weights are a perfect defense against stroke.
Did you know lifting weights for less than an hour per week actually reduces the incidence of stroke by 40 to 70%? But why are we suddenly talking about stroke? Because heart attack and stroke are closely related. They share the same risk factors like poor lifestyle and family history. If you have a previous history of heart attack then it is a huge risk factor for a subsequent stroke and vice versa.
Thankfully making heart-healthy changes that can lessen your risk of suffering a stroke can reduce the chances of a heart attack. Brain strokes occur when a piece of plaque gets stuck in the arteries of the brain and obstructs the blood flow. Since your brain cannot function without sufficient blood, it comes to a standstill. You can even call a stroke a brain attack.
The same dislodged piece of plaque can cause a heart attack if it enters the blood vessels of your heart. Simple steps like avoiding tobacco, being physically active, and choosing nutritious food can reduce the chances of stroke. It might be easier to incorporate cardio into your regular life. You can walk or use a bike to reach your workplace. You can jog around the block to increase the number of steps. But there are only a few natural weight-lifting-related activities in your day-to-day life like lifting heavy grocery bags or moving around heavy furniture. This is where having a gym membership might come in handy. If you have invested in a stationary bike or a treadmill, give buying dumbbells or kettlebells a thought.
Better sleep helps the heart.
Are you stuck in a cycle of poor sleep? Then it could be damaging to your heart. One in every four Americans experiences loss of sleep. Around 70 million Americans face some sort of sleep disorder. But there is a simple solution that can quickly improve your snooze time. Just add some strength training to your routine.
According to a study, muscle strengthening helped the participants to sleep better. Before we go ahead let’s look at the chemical molecules called adenosine. These molecules are broken down during the digestive process. Let’s call them ATP for short. It gives you energy for your daily activity. When ATP is used up it breaks down and causes drowsiness. Strength training causes a bigger surge of ATP when compared to light exercises like jogging and brisk walking.
Are you wondering why all this is important? Research confirms sufficient sleep can keep cardio metabolic diseases at bay. So if you are not getting the needed 8 hours of sleep at night due to insomnia or sleep apnoea then adding in strength training is highly recommended. People who experience shorter sleep periods had a 63% higher risk of cardiovascular disease and 79% higher risk of chronic heart disease than people who slept for 7 to 8 hours at night.
Fat loss can keep your heart young.
Chronic heart disease can be reduced by 80% by making simple lifestyle modifications. If you are struggling to get rid of belly fat with diet then throw in some strength training and see the results. Fat accumulation around the midsection of a body generally around the belly is called visceral fat. It is more dangerous as it can be found around your vital organs like the heart too. If you start lifting weights regularly your belly fat will start decreasing. Your lean muscle mass will increase and it will also lessen the fat accumulation around your heart.
Reducing blood sugar keeps your heart beating.
Is your blood sugar way out of control? Then start weight training ASAP. This will reduce the burden on your heart and allow it to beat with all its vigor. Statistically, almost 1 in 10 could have diabetes by the end of 2035. It would involve people having both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This is scary because type 2 diabetes has cardiac manifestations.
It causes coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, hypertension, peripheral vascular diseases, retinopathy, end-stage renal disease, and neuropathy. This can cause morbidity and mortality.
Strength training can improve glucose metabolism. A long-term study found individuals who engaged in strength training had a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes than the other participants who did not lift weights. So keep lifting weights to improve your insulin sensitivity and improve glycemic control. Your heart will thank you later.
Who doesn’t want a strong heart? But is your diet working against it? If you’re not careful it might just increase your chances of getting heart disease.