Why Weight?/Part 2: Weight Training Helps Heart Patients

by Jeanne Rhodes

Patients recovering from a heart attack were previously placed on an aerobic exercise program consisting of walking, jogging or cycling. But a study reported in The American Journal of Cardiology found that a program combining aerobic exercise with weight training nets the best outcome. As a result of this study and others like it, the American Heart Association now recommends a combination of aerobic plus resistance exercise.

In addition, the American College of Sports Medicine, which once touted the benefits of only aerobic activity for fitness, has added strength training to its guidelines. It suggests two weekly sessions of eight to twelve repetitions of eight to ten exercises that condition major muscle groups such as the thighs, back, and shoulders.


These are a few of the many advantages of resistance exercise:

1) Resistance exercise helps decrease body fat while increasing lean tissue. Since one pound of fat takes up five times the space of one pound of lean tissue, inches decrease dramatically as the body becomes increasingly firmer.

2) Lean tissue requires more calories than fat, therefore the accelerated increase in lean tissue through resistance exercise turns up the body’s calorie burning, even at rest.

3) A reshaping of the body is most evident, especially the reshaping of “problem” areas such as underarm “flab” in women.

4) Bone density (an important lean tissue) increases - a big plus for bone strength for everyone, especially for women who are more prone to osteoporosis.

5) Women will usually decrease overall body size while firming and uplifting “problem” areas - bust, buttocks, and underarm “flab”, while at the same time posture and strength both improve.

6) The reshaping that men usually experience is a little different - a broadening of the shoulders and a narrowing of the waist - the “v” shape most men desire. Strength also increases as well as bone density.

7) Health improvements — from heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes to arthritis for both men and women - are the driving force behind the recommendations by most medical professionals who now recommend aerobic exercise plus resistance exercise, with an added emphasis for senior citizens.

One word of caution. Resistance exercise gives excellent results when performed correctly. It can also cause serious injury if performed incorrectly. It is critical to seek professional guidance and instruction - a Personal Trainer that is certified, or a Fitness Professional with college education in the Fitness field.

Rhodes, B.A., M.A., is a Nutritionist, Wellness Lifestyle Strategist, Author, and Director of Rhodes Preventive Health Institute in Hagerstown.