Not only does it help you tone up, but even a small amount of weightlifting per week can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke

New research has found that lifting weights for as little as under an hour a week may reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 percent.

This is according to a new Iowa State University study which analysed data of nearly 13 000 adults.

And no, you don’t need to be a regular in the weight room to benefit. A few bicep curls and arm raises with free weights in the kitchen while cooking could be enough.

“People may think they need to spend a lot of time lifting weights, but just two sets of bench presses that take less than five minutes could be effective,” says DC (Duck-chul) Lee, associate professor of kinesiology.

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What about cardio?

No one is staying that cardio exercise isn’t important, but this study found benefits from strength training independent of aerobic activity like running or walking.

In other words, you do not have to meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic physical activity to lower your risk – weight training alone is enough.

Walking faster can help you live longer

It’s easier than you think

You don’t need a gym membership or fancy home gym equipment to benefit.

While this latest study looked specifically at the use of free weights and weight machines, Lee says people will benefit from other resistance exercises or any muscle-strengthening activities.

“Lifting any weight that increases resistance on your muscles is the key,” says Lee, “My muscle doesn’t know the difference if I’m digging in the yard, carrying heavy shopping bags or lifting a dumbbell.”

More benefits of strength training

When it comes to reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease, most people think of running or other cardio activity.

Lee says weight lifting is just as good for your heart and there are other benefits to strength training:

1.  Helps lower risk of diabetes and high cholesterol

Using the same dataset, Lee and his colleagues looked at the relationship between resistance exercise and diabetes as well as hypercholesterolemia, or high cholesterol.

The risk of hypercholesterolemia was 32 percent lower.

2.  Lowers risk of stroke and heart disease

Less than an hour of weekly resistance exercise (compared with no resistance exercise) was associated with a 29 percent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which increases risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The results were independent of aerobic exercise.

3.  Helps with weight control

Weight lifting can help you control and even lose weight, without doing cardio.

“Muscle is the power plant to burn calories. Building muscle helps move your joints and bones, but also there are metabolic benefits. I don’t think this is well appreciated,” says Lee.

“If you build muscle, even if you’re not aerobically active, you burn more energy because you have more muscle. This also helps prevent obesity and provide long-term benefits on various health outcomes.”

So, instead of idly waiting for a kettle to boil, grab free weights (or equally weighted food cans) and pump up those calorie-burning muscles.

Source: Iowa State University via Journal Reference via 

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