Cardiovascular physical activity has long been a go-to means for improving heart health. A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2010; 24 [10], 2846-52) indicates that resistance training may also prove beneficial for the heart. The small study included 10 male subjects who completed two forms of exercise: upper- and lower-body resistance training consisting of 3 sets of 10 repetitions at 65% of 1-repetition maximum; and 30 minutes of cycling at 65% of VO2peak. The goal of the study was to compare blood vessel responses to the exercise methods.

After resistance exercise, the researchers noted a significant increase in limb blood flow despite a slight increase in central arterial stiffness. By contrast, cardiovascular exercise decreased arterial stiffness without significantly increasing blood flow. Resistance exercise was also associated with a greater degree of hypotension 40 minutes after the workout compared with cardiovascular exercise.

“The present study indicates that an acute bout of resistance exercise shows many favorable cardiovascular benefits and should therefore be considered as part of a daily exercise training program,” concluded the study authors.