Posted on Hello Wellness on Nov 20, 2010
Pumping iron can actually help your heart. No longer the domain of the exclusive flex-and-pecs club at the gym, the fitness-conscious people in India are finally waking up to the benefits of moderate weight-lifting.
Reaping the benefits
Weight-lifting promotes resistance training, building muscles and discouraging fat build-ups in the body. Less fats in the body helps promote healthy heart function and reduces the risks to cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, atherosclerosis, ischemia and fat embolism. These are conditions that primarily arise from or triggered by fatty deposits in the body that affect the heart functions.
Condition your heart, first
When done in the conventional manner, weight-training is unlikely to significantly condition the heart. Most people leisurely move between machines when weight-training, frequently stopping to rest between exercises. The key to conditioning the heart lies in circuit training where you quickly move from resistance exercise to resistance exercise without allowing the heart rate to drop significantly. This allows you to not only build muscle strength and tone, but also to condition the heart and burn more calories at the same time.
Monitor your BP
Weight-lifting can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. This increase can be dramatic — depending on how much weight you lift. But, weight-lifting can also have long-term benefits to blood pressure that outweigh the risk of a temporary spike.
People with high blood pressure should consult their doctors before starting a weight-training programme.
If you have high blood pressure, do not hold your breath during exertion as it can cause dangerous spikes in blood pressure. Instead, breathe easily and continuously during each lift. Lift lighter weights more number of times. Heavier weights require more strain, which can cause a greater increase in blood pressure. Challenge your muscles with lighter weights by increasing the number of repetitions you lift. And listen to your body. Stop right away if you become severely out of breath or dizzy or if you experience chest pain or pressure.
Caution: Weight-training is not recommended if you have unstable coronary heart disease such as those with angina, congestive heart failure, severe pulmonary hypertension, severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, acute infection of the heart or tissues surrounding the heart, uncontrolled high blood pressure (more than 180/110 mmHg), aortic dissection and Marfan syndrome.