Strength training tied to better heart health

Image 1 of 9

Jada Henderson has been lifting since high school.

"I actually do more weight training than I do cardio," she says.

At 32, Henderson says she's as strong as she's ever been.

"I'm always trying to tell my friends, that, yes, you need to lift weights, because you can still get the shape that all women want," she says.  "It's not from doing cardio. It's from lifting the weights."

A recent survey found strength training may be linked to better overall heart health than aerobic exercises, like running or using an elliptical machine.

Bill Hogue, the strength and conditioning coach at X3 Sports in Atlanta, agrees.

"The best way is a combination of everything," Hogue says. "I suggest to everybody that you find the right combination of strength training and cardiovascular exercise, even if it's lifting 2 days a week and running 3 days a week. Whatever it is, the more you move, the more you pick up heavy things and set them back down, the stronger your heart is going to be."

But, with little time to work out, many of us skip the weights and head for the cardio machines.

"I see that in here," Hogue says. "I see people that, all they do is get on the treadmill and get on the elliptical."

Hogue says incorporating strength training in your workout boosts your cardiovascular health in 3 ways.

First, he says, it can lower blood pressure, by helping you build building lean muscle mass.

As you build lean muscle mass, you have more blood flow," Hogue says.

He says it can also lower your cholesterol levels. 

"We have what's called visceral fat around our organs, and that's where most of the cardiovascular disease comes from," Hogue says.

The more muscle you build, Hogue explains, the less visceral fat you'll have adding straining on your heart.

"It also helps you sleep better, and when we sleep better, our body kind of resets itself and recovers," Hogue adds.

Jada Henderson says she's hooked, not just because of the physical benefits of weight lifting.

She loves what it does to her mood.

"I feel like I'm on the this high," Henderson says.  "I still feel it a couple of hours afterward. I'm like, 'Yeah!'"