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February 14, 2022

Strength Training for Your Sweet Heart

Love is in the air and hearts are everywhere. The heart became the symbol of love in 12th century France—long before it ever became an emoji. The Greeks viewed the heart as the seat of the soul and emotions. Why wouldn’t they? I’m sure all of us have had that flitter/flutter heart experience on a first date, first kiss, or even first glance. At least, I hope you have.

The heart also serves as the symbol of health, so let’s spend some time talking about heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US and the world. One in 4 Americans will die from heart disease. And it’s not just the men; every year doctors diagnose 1 in 3 women with heart disease. This is heart-breaking (pun intended) when you understand that heart disease barley existed at the beginning of the 20th century.

Our western lifestyle is destroying our health. We’ve eliminated the need for most physical activity, and most of what we eat is ultra-processed stuff that our bodies barely recognize as food. We don’t get enough sleep, and we are constantly overstressed. No wonder our hearts want to quit.

Let’s talk about the most important thing I think you need to do to have a healthy ticker and live a lot longer for the ones you love. Exercise.

When it comes to heart health, we always think of aerobic exercise as the gold standard. We even call it cardio.

Physical activity is extremely important to your health. We agree with the recommendations of the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine: all adults should participate in moderate intensity physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes five days per week.

Walking is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your heart, your mind, and your overall health. Getting outside is better than walking on a treadmill. If you can’t do 30 minutes, go for 10. Start where you can, with the amount of time you have, and work up from there. Do everything you can to get at least 7,500 steps a day. More is better.

Many people hardly ever think of strength training when it comes to improving heart health. The traditional approach from the medical field for recovery from coronary artery bypass surgery is moderate intensity walking on a treadmill, otherwise known as cardiac rehab. This approach has proven effective based on the positive association between higher cardiorespiratory fitness and lower all-cause mortality and cardiac-related mortality.

Even with its success rate, only 10% of eligible patients typically enroll in a cardiac rehab program, even when their insurance company pays for it. Several reasons could explain this. I honestly believe most people don’t want to spend three days a week in a supervised exercise program at a hospital.

Research now shows that strength training can improve cardiovascular fitness just as well as aerobic training.

In 2017 researchers published a meta-analysis study evaluating all studies published on the effect of resistance training on cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength in coronary artery disease. The study found strength training alone improved aerobic fitness to a similar degree as aerobic training in coronary heart disease patients. In other words, strength training provided the same measurable cardiovascular improvements in patients with heart disease as walking on a treadmill.

The authors of the study stated that strength training can provide cardiovascular improvements equivalent in magnitude to aerobic training, which may contribute to a reduced mortality risk. Additionally, patients experienced the greatest overall effects of improving strength and cardiovascular fitness when they combined strength training with walking—exactly what we recommend at Exercise Inc.

The Health Professionals Follow-Up study reported a 23% reduction in the risk of fatal and non-fatal heart attacks in men who reported 30 minutes or more of strength training per week, which is greater than the 18% reduction for men who reported walking 3.5 hours per week.

In spite if this evidence, most doctors are still reluctant to recommend strength training to heart disease patients. They typically state that it is just too strenuous or dangerous.

Well, there is another caveat to this study. Twenty of the studies indicated adverse events that occurred during training. Those studies reported a total of 64 cardiovascular complications occurred during training—63 occurred during aerobic training, and only one event occurred during strength training.

It looks like the doctors are concerned about the safety of the wrong type of training. Based on this study, strength training is a much safer form of training for heart disease patients, especially in regard to being safe for the heart.

We’ve been helping our clients improve their heart health in only 20 Minutes A Week for the past 18 years. Just check out some of these amazing success stories. Anyone who’s ever done our program will quickly understand the cardiovascular aspect of high intensity strength training. Bottom line is if you are stronger, everything you do is easier on your heart.

There’s no better time than now for your sweet heart to experience 20 Minutes A Week at Exercise Inc. You need to take care of your heart for yourself and the ones you love. If you’re not working with us now, click here to schedule a free initial consultation. Your sweet heart will thank you for it.

Stay Heart Strong,

Bo Railey