Updated: Jan 25
If cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength are so different, can weight training improve your cardio?
When you lift weights, receptors on the blood vessels in your working muscles vasodilate (get bigger) to allow more blood flow to the working muscle. At the same time, the contracting muscles blood flows back towards the heart, which increases the blood that the heart is able to pump with each beat. Both these mechanisms can improve your cardiovascular fitness.
Strength training, often called resistance training. The most common form of strength training is lifting weights. These types of exercises are known for developing muscles, helping to develop and maintain the integrity of bones, increasing metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass, building stronger connective tissue and greater joint stability. Strength training is beneficial for everyone. It is especially beneficial as we grow older because muscle mass naturally diminishes with age, and strength training will help prevent this muscle loss and rebuild what may have been lost.
Resistance exercise is important for older adults not only for their cardiovascular health, but also for their bone health, physical function, independence and quality of life.
The American Heart Association (AHA) says that for healthy adults, a regular program of weight training not only increases muscle strength and endurance, it also improves heart and lung function, enhances glucose metabolism, reduces coronary disease risk factors, and boosts well-being. When our muscles are stronger, there is less demand placed on the heart. This allows the lungs to process more oxygen with less effort, the heart to pump more blood with fewer beats, and the blood supply directed to your muscles to increase.