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Current public health guidelines recommend that adults engage in muscle-strengthening activities such as resistance training at least twice a week. Research indicates that resistance exercise provides a wide range of health benefits, including increased muscle mass and strength, greater bone density, and improved mood. Findings from a 2019 study also suggest that resistance exercise reduces the risk of the number one killer worldwide: cardiovascular-related disease and death.

The study involved more than 12,000 adults (average age 47 years) who were enrolled in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study - an ongoing prospective investigation of links between exercise and cardiovascular health. Participants underwent a comprehensive examination that included collection of a detailed medical history, assessment of cardiovascular and metabolic health parameters, and information-gathering about the participants’ resistance exercise habits.

They found that participants who engaged in resistance exercise one to three times (or a total of up to 59 minutes) per week were 40 to 70 percent less likely to experience a cardiovascular disease-related event than those who never engaged in resistance exercise. Engaging in resistance exercise more than four times (or more than an hour) per week did not confer any additional protection. The authors' analysis indicated that the decreased risk was due in part to resistance exercise’s effects on lowering body mass index, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

These findings suggest that resistance exercise promotes cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercise is also important for cardiovascular health. Learn about the cardiovascular benefits of aerobic exercise in our overview article.

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