There are certain types of workouts, like running and spinning, that we know are good for our hearts. They are, after all, literally called “cardiovascular exercises.”
But if you want to keep that blood pumping at peak capacity, those daily three-mile jogs can’t do the job on all on their own. So grab a set of heavyweights because cardiologists say that regular strength and resistance training is more important to heart health than you might have realized.
According to Satjit Bhusri, MD, board-certified cardiologist, heavyweight training is similar to sprinting in that you can only do both for a short amount of time because it requires such high amounts of energy exertion.
“Your heart doesn’t know what exercise you are doing—it’s a pump and it’s built to meet supply and demand—so the higher the demand, or intensity of the exercise, the more blood that is needed to meet those demands,” he says. The result? Increased heart rate and blood pressure, which help to strengthen the organ over time. If you need more proof, a 2019 study found that combination training (aka integrating aerobic and anaerobic workouts throughout the week) increased lean body mass, strength, and cardiorespiratory fitness better than an aerobic-only routine.
In addition to boosting your heart health, Dr. Bhuari adds that strength training also has the ability to build muscle, improve bone strength, and ultimately help you perform daily activities more easily. “The end result allows a person to be more active in their everyday life while improving their overall quality of life, too,” he says. “Also, the increased cardiac output correlated with strength training helps control and lower a person’s blood pressure.”
In order to reap the maximum benefits from your strength-training workouts, Dr. Bhuari recommends exercises that work multiple joints at the same time. “Multi-joint exercises help improve coordination, flexibility, burns more calories, and elevates cardiac output compared to simple movement strength exercises,” says Dr. Bhusari. Here are a few of his favorites.
3. Bench press
4. Shoulder press
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