Heart Attack Prevention with Strength Training

A study from the University of Tsukuba in Japan shows that strength training for the legs of older men may help to prevent heart attacks. Men over 60 performed 12 weeks of resistance training involving bending and straightening the knees against resistance, three sets of 10 repetitions a day, two days a week. They increased their ability to move heavy weights by 16 percent.

Most measures of heart attack risk in the participants did not change, but their blood concentration of nitric oxide increased. Nitric oxide relaxes and opens arteries to increase blood flow to the heart and helps prevent heart attacks. This paper shows that resistance training may increase nitric oxide without stiffening arteries in healthy older men.

The vast majority of older people are so weak that they can't get out of a chair without using their hands, can't walk up stairs without holding a railing and can't even lift a 25-pound package. Virtually all recent research show that people can become stronger by exercising against progressively greater resistance, no matter how old they are. Strength training usually doesn't enlarge the muscles of older people enough to be measured, but we now know that you can become much stronger, even if your muscles do not look larger. Journal reference for this article; more on strength training.


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