Researchers in Copenhagen have found that weightlifting may offer more protection against heart disease than cardio exercise does. Their study found that both types of exercise reduced heart fat among obese individuals, but that resistance training was more likely to reduce a certain type of dangerous heart fat that has link to cardiovascular disease.
The team found that a type of heart fat called pericardial adipose tissue was reduce among participants who did weight exercises such as lunges with dumbbells or weight push-ups, but not among those who did endurance training with aerobic exercise. Both types of exercise did reduce levels of another type of heart fat called epicardial adipose tissue, which has also been associate with cardiovascular disease.
Fatty plaques in arteries
Cardiovascular disease is cause by the accumulation of fatty plaques in arteries (atherosclerosis), something which can be prevent by increasing physical exercise and following a healthy diet. Obesity, which is cause by a poor diet and lack of exercise, can lead to a build-up of the fatty material or adipose tissue around the heart.
Both epicardial adipose tissue and pericardial adipose tissue are recognize as drivers of heart disease. Epicardial adipose tissue has been shown to promote the build-up of fatty plaques in atherosclerosis and to restrict blood flow around the body. Less is known about the impact pericardial adipose tissue has on heart function; but the authors of the current study say it has exclusively with cardiovascular risk factors; like coronary calcification, and the incidence of coronary heart disease.
According to the World Health Organization; so heart disease kills one in three people every day worldwide; which equates to 17.9 million per year. To reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease; so the NHS recommends following a healthy diet and engaging in exercise, since both of these lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels.
Weightlifting for heart
To investigate the impact that different types of exercise may have on heart fat; so Regitse Hojgaard Christensen from Copenhagen University Hospital and team randomly assign 32 individuals who were obese and did not exercise to 12 weeks of weight training, aerobic exercise, or no change in physical activity. None of the participants had existing heart problems or diabetes.
Compare with the control group who did not exercise; so the aerobic exercise reduce epicardial adipose tissue mass by 32% and weight training reduce it by 24%. However, any impact on pericardial adipose tissue was only in the weight training group; which saw a reduction of 31% compare with the control group.
The researchers did not try combining the two forms of exercise; so but emphasize that either type was more beneficial than not exercising at all. “They did not combine resistance and endurance training; which would have been interesting to reveal their potential additive effects,” they say.
The study does not explain why weight training may be more effective than endurance training; but the authors say that other studies have show; so that resistance training is better at increasing muscle mass and basal metabolism. “They, therefore, speculate that participants doing resistance training burn; so more calories during the day also in inactive periods-compare to those engage in endurance training,” says Christensen.