Resistance Exercise May Lower Risk of Heart Disease, Diabetes

We’ve long known that regular moderate aerobic exercise can lower a person’s risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. But researchers in The Netherlands found daily moderate amount of resistance exercise can also help in lowering the risk of these chronic diseases.

According to the study, performing resistance exercise regularly can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a major risk factor for both heart disease and diabetes, while boosting the overall health.

A lot of previous studies have shown that health benefits associated with regular aerobic exercises (also known as cardio) are plenty. Practicing a daily aerobic exercise , including walking, jogging, running or swimming, can help promote overall well being.

Now, for the first time, the benefits of performing resistance exercise alone have been assessed.

Resistance exercise, aka strength training, is a type of physical activity in which external resistance such as weights or exercise bands are used. Strength training is considered a great way to lose weight and increase muscle mass, strength and tone.

But researchers from Radboud University Medical Center in Netherlands suggest resistance exercise can do more than that. According to them, doing strength-building exercise regularly, even in moderate amount, can reduce a person’s risk of developing heart trouble, diabetes, or both.

In their study, lead author Esmee Bakker of Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and colleagues found that when generally healthy people did resistance exercise for less than an hour every week they had 29 percent lower chances of developing metabolic syndrome in comparison to their peers who did no strength-building exercise.

“You already get health benefits with even a low amount of resistance exercise per week, which is good news for people with a very busy lifestyle,” said Bakker.

For the research, Bakker and colleagues examined data of over 7,400 people who had had medical examinations at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas, between 1987 and 2006. The participants ranged in age from mid-30s to mid-50s at the time of the examinations.

The researchers found that a total of 1,147 participants (or 15 percent), had went on to develop metabolic syndrome during the follow-up period. However, doing resistance exercise for two or more days per week proved to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome by 17 percent overall, versus performing no resistance exercise. Those who did both aerobic and resistance training had a further 25 percent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

“A modest amount of resistance exercise, such as two 30-minute sessions per week, has beneficial effects,” Bakker said. “We think that resistance exercise, in addition to aerobic exercise, should be included in standard medical recommendations to prevent metabolic syndrome.”

The research was published online June 14, 2017 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.