Even a Little Weight Training May Cut the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Weight training might not just improve your physique — it might help build a healthier heart, too.

Comments: 127

  1. This isn't new information, but still useful to share. One thing that would be new and helpful is to give information about how to begin a healthy weight training regimen. There is still a big misconception that lifting weights = big muscles (which many women do not want).

  2. @Holly You make a great point about women who don’t dare to lift heavy weights because they think that they will bulk up. Without artificial help, women simply can’t get huge, we lack the serious amount of testosterone needed for that. We do have the same muscles as men do and therefore there should be no reason to train differently. I see a lot of women do exercises that seem pointless, lifting tiny dumbbells and constantly working on low weight thigh ab- and adductor machines. Anyway, good to hear there is a cardiovascular benefit from weightlifting, all that sweat is not just giving me lower body fat and more energy for nothing.

  3. I am 65. I have been lifting weights since I was in my 20 's, and was at one time in the 1970's told to leave the weight room at Michigan State because it was not for girls! I am not quite as strong as I was, but I'm pretty darn strong, and I am much stronger than my 72 year old husband who never worked out until a year ago he knew he had to start, and now goes with me. The comment about women and big muscles made me think of my big shoulders. I have really developed, awesome shoulders, no flags under my arms. I used to practice medicine in my career, and it was not unusual to see elderly women with chronically dislocated shoulders, because as they aged and atrophied their muscles could no longer hold their shoulder in the joint.

  4. Quite the contrary — decades ago, I lost 50 pounds primarily through lifting weights. And I never got big muscles. It pains me that this myth persists among women. Go online or to your local library — there are many books about weightlifting for women. Keep it simple and focus on the large muscle groups to get more bang for your buck.

  5. I've been lifting weights for decades. I'm 69 years old, retired and still plugging along. My lifting routine is short and sweet; 1 set of 8 -12 strict reps of 10 basic barbell exercises (at least 1 per muscle group). This kind of routine is fine for those starting out, too. Holly, if you'd like more details, please let me know. I also walk, ride a bike or use a rower for about an hour 3 or 4 times a week. I swear by this workout & would suggest it to anyone who asked. So, actually, this article only confirms what I know. Thanks for the article!

  6. @Chris hi Chris I also am 69 and starting to lift would really like to know the 10 exercises u are doing Thanks Scott

  7. @Chris The rowing machine (erg machine) is the best cardio and strength workout on the planet imho.

  8. @Chris! While not yet 69, I am impressed by your routine and would like to start lifting. Please do share the 10 exercises with me too!

  9. Typically, high weight/low reps lead to muscle definition and low weight/high reps leads to muscle growth.

  10. @Jim, @Holly Since I'm not into bodybuilding, I don't do multi setting. So, 1 set of 8 - 12 reps optimizes fitness only. I lift forcefully but strictly, and make a point to lower the weight at least as slowly as I lift. This means it might take 1 second to lift the weight & 1 set to lower it for the first rep when I'm strongest, but due to fatigue, it would probably take more than 3 seconds to lift, & hence 3 - 4 seconds to lower it on the final (e.g. 11th rep). Wow! What an effect. It's harder than one might suppose.

  11. Power lifters are focused on gaining strength. Body builders are focus on the appearance of large and defined muscles. Many competitive power lifters look fat. Many competitive body builders look freakishly muscled. The weight lifting approach of the two groups is quite different. Power lifters’ work sets (the sets focused on stressing the system for muscle adaption (i.e. strength gain in the case of power lifters)) are heavy weight/low rep (1-5 reps typically) that are repeated multiple times after long periods of recovery (3-10 minutes depending on how advanced the lifters is). Body builders’ work sets consist of lower weights at higher reps (8-15). The rest period between sets is very short (perhaps just 1 minute) and the objective is to utterly fatigue the muscle. The focus of this approach is hypertrophy (i.e. muscle size rather than muscle strength). For those like me pushing 50 years of age or more, I recommend focusing on strength gains rather than muscle size.

  12. I question the cause and effect claimed here. "The subjects were categorized according to their reported resistance exercise routines". People who would report having an resistance exercise routine probably have other healthy habits beneficial to heart health. It is questionable to attribute this solely to RE.

  13. But there was no cause and effect claimed here. The study is clearly billed as one that shows correlation, not causation.

  14. I'm not understanding the small amount of time referenced here. The smallest increment mentioned is an hour twice a week. That sounds like a lot.

  15. @Ron A If you think about running for an hour is a lot of time, but when you're lifting weights you're resting half the time between sets and setting things up so the time goes by more easily.

  16. They overcame resistance *to* exercise.

  17. And for those of you who hate gyms, remember that there is no need to actually step foot inside a gym. Bodyweight exercises can do wonders! Pull ups, sit ups, push ups, double-leg squats, single leg squats (also can be performed while holding heavy bricks or a bag of groceries!), curling tightly-sealed gallon-bottles of water, etc etc etc etc

  18. @fiona. Using gallon jugs of water as weights is especially handy on trips.

  19. @Peter Silverman , I really like your reply! It's TRUE. Thank you!

  20. Indeed (except I've read sit-ups can harm your back so watch out with those, but yes go nuts with push-ups!)

  21. "Interestingly, the subjects who reported weight training four or more times per week did not show any significant health benefits compared with those who never lifted, although the researchers believe this finding is probably a statistical anomaly.)" I'd like to have the researchers at least try to explain this confounding finding. It makes the rest of the research seem incidental.

  22. @Helleborus it is odd. I wonder if it was just a smaller sample size than all the others. It is a rare bird indeed that does resistance training that often. Just a thought

  23. @ LB Per the abstract, the category of those who did frequent resistance exercise included those who did it 4X a week or more OR 60 min. a week or more. So that category includes a lot more than rare birds, and would encompass just about everyone who hits a gym twice weekly (and a significant chunk of those who hits a gym once weekly, I would think).

  24. My guess would be that the sample size was just too small to be significant.

  25. Great news as I weight train in classes several times a week and I look and feel GREAT (unlike most Americans.) Who are too lazy to exercise and who eat too much as well as eat too much JUNK FOOD.

  26. @Jan Me too. I'm 64, attend classes that combine cardio and weights four days a week and am in the best overall shape of my life. As they say, the hardest part of going to the gym is getting TO the gym.

  27. @Jan You are rightfully proud of your diligence, but can you be proud of yourself without dumping on "most Americans?" Undoubtedly there are people who have the means and opportunity to live healthy lives, but choose not to do so. There are also plenty of folks who face real impediments -- lack of access to safe outdoor space to exercise, food deserts, lack of child care, limited financial resources to name a few. I am 50 and exercise 6-7 days/week (including strength training!), and one of the things that keeps ME motivated is the recognition that being able to stick to that schedule represents a real privilege for which I am very grateful.

  28. @Jan. Great news if "several" times a week means two. If it means four, I'm afraid that according to the study you get no heart health benefit.

  29. I recommend beginning with a trainer. Form is everything with weights. Lack of proper form can lead to injury and lack of results, wasting your time and money. After four years, I'm still working twice a week with a trainer because she crafts routines that are different every time. In general, we work the whole body every workout, but with an interesting mix of dumbbells, barbells, cables, machines, and equipment like medicine balls and kettlebells. I'm 62, and I just stumbled upon weight training one day because the studio is a storefront in my condo building. I recommend weights to everyone I know.

  30. The study's conclusion and the NY Times article's headline and thrust -- that even a little weight training may cut coronary/stroke risk substantially -- is at minimum premature, and, I would argue, irresponsible. The study is only associative, but it is associative in a way that immediately suggests non-causation: The relationship between frequency of resistance exercise (RE i.e., weight-lifting) and cardio disease was a U-shaped curve, with both no RE at all, and RE occurring more than 3X or totaling an hour or more weekly, associated with no risk reduction. An hour a week aint much. Why would the association abruptly stop there? It could well be that low levels of RE vs. no RE serves as a surrogate for any number of life circumstances that greatly reduce risk -- such as the ability to get out, motivation to move, less sedentary habits/ways/choices/abilities, and the RE itself having nothing to do with the lessened risk. At minimum, other data collections should be assessed, and perhaps many such collections combined to get some so-called metadata on this supposed phenomenon, *before* a claim is suggested, that a tiny little bit of weight training might cut risk of cardio- and cerebro-vascular disease a lot.

  31. @Dennis I always wonder why people who critique studies by major institutions, generally done by MD/PhDs who have devoted their careers to designing and implementing such studies, don't consider the possibility that the researches thought of, and adjusted for, every single one of these factors. Not to say those are not good points- just saying that to someone who spent 10 years post grad to do this for a career- they are somewhat obvious.

  32. @Dennis I agree that this headline and any conclusions are premature. Associational studies are only that. Correlation does not prove causation. And a U curve raises further questions. We can all speculate about why there might be a U curve but the fact is we don't know. Should you do resistance training? Yes - because whatever other positive benefits it may or may not bring to your heart, it will help you maintain your strength as you age so that you can continue to do the activities you like to do. That is reason enough--any other surprising positive effects are gravy.

  33. @Phil On the other hand, the researchers chose to say that one of their findings "is probably a statistical anomaly." What keeps any of their other findings from being "anomalies?"

  34. "Interestingly, the subjects who reported weight training four or more times per week did not show any significant health benefits compared with those who never lifted, although the researchers believe this finding is probably a statistical anomaly." As an experienced workout nut, I have an answer to this problem: it's called over-training. Your body gets used to the same routine if done often and it stops responding. That's why it's important to include diversity in workouts as a way to challenge your body. The same is true of your brain. Routine are both detrimental for body, brain, and soul!

  35. Overtraining is doing exercise for too long or at too intense a level so that your body can't recover before your next session. You are referring to plateauing.

  36. It would help if the article elaborated on what kind of benefits are provided by resistance training - is it preventing heart attacks and strokes, or does it aid recovery after a heart surgery/procedure. In my case, I included resistance training 3 times a week for several years, combined with aerobic exercise . However, my diet was all over the place and my artery was clogged 99 percent. I could have had a heart attack anytime but was luckily I didn't. Did the resistance training help my body cope? Did it help my heart pump under stress for extended periods? I would like to find out.

  37. This comes as good encouragement at a good time - I've been having a hard time motivating myself to keep up the resistance training such that I've slacked off to about once a week. I keep following this pattern, doing weights and body weight exercises for months at a time, then gradually slacking off because, even though I know they're good for me and make me feel good, the truth is I just don't like them that much. I wish I could find a way to look forward to weight training the way I do to running!

  38. I highly recommend joining a class that employs cardio and weights. They are more fun, motivating and instructional which is important for maintaining proper form.

  39. @Catherine Omigod, I am so with you on this! I LOVE to run, and I hate weight training. I do it regularly, then lay off. I drive 25 miles, 50 round trip, to get to the gym. One day I got there and just could not force myself to go inside. I just turned around and headed back home. I do feel great when I have done the weights and am leaving, but, man, to start that first set! Ugh! But I will.......... Come first of the year! :-)

  40. Sounds like you might be better off doing some bodyweight exercises in addition to your running. I wouldn’t want to drive 25 miles to lift weights either!!

  41. Exercise IS boring! Well, most of it is. That's why people read, listen to music, watch TV or movies, and depend on their smart phones to keep them sane while exercising. Because it's tough to keep up the discipline without some sort of mental anesthesia. And, as you get older, it hurts more. Knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists, ankles, exercise takes a toll on them all. So why do it? Ironically, at 63, despite hip replacement, protective sleeves and straps on almost every joint, my muscle growth and heart health have greatly improved. I cannot, or should not, run (unless the house is on fire) but I can do intense, low-impact cardio, followed by weight training. I FEEL good and my physicals show I am good, even though liniment and Ibuprofen are constant companions. Cardio and weight-training works, boredom and all. And the joints are an acceptable trade-off, for a healthy heart, and an active life.

  42. @Dadof2 I'm not sure I agree that weight training and cadrio is boring, but I can say that I don't really look forward to going to the gym, as it's a pretty intense workout. - However, when I'm done I feel good and am glad that I went. I don't quite understand people who say they enjoy lifting, but I wouldn't dispute anyone who believes they feel good after a workout. That, I agree with.

  43. @Dadof2 Disagree on the boring. I fence (as in en garde) 5-7 hours a week minimum, do Olympic Weight Lifting 3 days a week for an hour and an hour of reformer-based Pilates once a week. Usually another hour a week is devoted to agility and upper body work. It's been my routine almost daily for the last 2 years. (I'm 57). I love it. I don't like missing a day. It improves my mood. It makes everything better. If you are bored, get a personal trainer to help you change the routine - I work with mine 1-2 times a month to keep things fresh.

  44. I am 65 and have been lifting weights daily for 30 years. learn to really listen to your body while exercising. Trainers taught me the importance of proper form in lifting, how to breathe and how to hold the resistance to the weight, throughout the process of lifting. With running, which i can no longer manage, I used to get a true "runner's high" as the endorphin's released when my effort was pushed sufficiently. With weights, you can achieve the same "high", if your form and intensity raise your exertion level such that your heart opens up its arteries wide. Arnold calls this the 'PUMP". Listen to your body, especially your heart and lungs. Exercise is physical, but it has an important mental component and requires concentration while exercising to achieve lasting results.

  45. I use a Polar heart rate watch and chest strap monitor to track all my workouts, which include two or more of the following: cardio machines (steady state or intervals, on different days), bodyweight exercises, and weightlifting. The Polar shows the number of minutes spent in each of five Intensity Zones, ranked from about 50% of estimated Maximum Heart Rate to 100%. It shows that information for each portion of the workout, so I believe I have a way of evaluating how each type of exercise compares to the others, in Heart Rate terms. When I compare the profiles for each type of exercise (not including warm up and cool down times at the beginning and end of the day’s exercise), the HR monitor shows a similar profile for the cardio intervals sessions and the bodyweight sessions, with most time spent in Zones 3 and 4 (middle and middle upper ranges) and usually a minute or three in Zone 5 (the highest). The weightlifting profile is similar but a little lower overall, with more time accumulated in Zone 3 and less in Zones 4 and 5, because weightlifting comes last in my workouts and, by that time, I need a little more rest between sets and also time to set up the next weights. So It seems to me that the weightlifting sessions work my heart in a way that is similar to cardio intervals, except with less overall intensity. (The bodyweight sessions are very similar, including in intensity.) Bottom line: weightlifting has good heart health effects.

  46. @Robert Holladay Interesting! I recently acquired Polar HR chest band to use with my phone for running. By comparison, I found similar results as you when I measured an hour of shoveling heavy wet snow (a form of resistance exercise, I think). However, I do worry about data privacy with these HR monitor apps.

  47. One of the newer trends in exercise health is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). The approach is to alternate periods of high intensity and low intensity effort in one’s relatively short exercise routine. It might be running or biking or rowing and might be 2 minutes of slow recovery and 30-45 seconds of near-all out effort alternating over a period of 15 minutes. Though I haven’t heard the connection, I find that weight lifting is a lot like HIIT. A heavy set of 5 reps will leave me breathing very hard. I then rest and do it again. And again. And again. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that HIIT and resistance training (if done to near-maximum effort) share a lot of health similarities.

  48. This is good to hear. I am now pushing 60, I have returned to regular weight training for the last 10 years after a pause of many years, and I love it. I feel it benefits my whole well being; mind and body. Good for me or not, I will continue to weight train, until I cant....

  49. I have been weight training seriously now for several years at age 58, partly to help stave off further problems with my cervical and lumbosacral spines. I had a previous long history of running and basketball playing, with some intermittent weight training, but not formally as I do now. Judging by what I can lift, and by dynamometer monitoring, I am considerably stronger now than 5 years ago, possibly as strong as I have ever been. One interesting effect has been a bit of a weight gain. My arms and chest are bigger, though I still have that stubborn little abdominal tire that wants to hang around. But given that I don't get to do the long aerobic runs I used to--trying to avoid the pounding--that's perhaps not surprising. I just mention this so people don't get apoplectic if they gain weight with built up muscle, which weighs more than fat per unit of volume.

  50. Well done, Times (in contrast to your frequent breathless health reports based on studies of '9 middle aged men who exercised for 11 minutes' then showed 'dramatic' differences in genes expressed or whatever).

  51. A little weight training is going to tone up your bod a bit and maybe help you lose some weight. Otherwise I would put it in the bottom 10% on how to lessen your risk of cardio problems. Near the top would be to not to smoke, take illegal drugs, be obese, eat greasy/fatty foods etc. etc.

  52. @Paul Hmm, I guess I'll go with the reported medical study analyzing 12,500 records and finding that "The findings were dramatic: The risk of experiencing these events was roughly 50 percent lower for those who lifted weights occasionally, compared with those who never did," over the unsupported assertion of Paul from Brooklyn. P.S. The association between dietary fat and heart risk has been cast in grave scientific doubt in recent years.

  53. Speaking only for myself, and having been through periods of great health and then not so great due to orthopaedic issues, weight training is absolutely the key to good health. Paul here notes that other things help more, but in my experience, if I do weight training 3 days a week, I am much less likely to eat bad food or indulge in other bad habits. And, I feel better, have more energy, and keep the weight off. It's good to know there may be these other benefits.

  54. @Paul Cardio problems? Or cardiac risks? Cardio is a generic term for aerobic exercise...so the problems there would be of a different nature, then those one has with their cardiovascular system. A cardio problem can range from a sprained ankle, that doesnt allow for cardio/aerobic work. To a restriction in breathing.

  55. Suggest lifting weights while doing yoga. Cheers!

  56. @Thierry Cartier ... but then it's not yoga?

  57. For those too busy to incorporate weight training into their lives- consider the lazy person's version of this- hot saunas. Studies released earlier this year from Finland and Japan show a substantial reduction in heart attacks and strokes among those who sauna regularly, and many docs think this benefit likely extends to hot baths.

  58. @Phil This runs counter to everything I've ever heard, and to my personal experience (saunas and hot tubs make me, an a-fib patient, lightheaded). Likely fine for people with no history of cardiovascular problems; else, get your doctor's OK first.

  59. I'm curious about the finding of no difference between 4-day/week lifters vs non-lifters. It reminds me of the dose/duration effect reported by cardiologist James O'Keefe reported in his TED Talk, where runners who run longer duration that 1hr and/or pace faster than 8 min/miles were found to have no difference in heart benefits compared to non-exercisers. By "statistical anomaly", my only interpretation is that the sample size (i.e., statistical power) for that group was too low.

  60. Sounds good, but beware. Did you hear of the weightlifter who dropped a barbell on his big toe, causing him to lose balance, causing him to fall, causing him to hit his head on the floor, causing him a spike in blood pressure, causing him a stroke, causing him to take medication, causing him to stop lifting weights. casusing him to live longer, causing him to develop Alzheimers Disease??

  61. @Samm Best to stay on your couch in midtown! :-)

  62. Filed this article away in my burgeoning folder titled "Exercise is good." Still searching for information to fill my other folder, titled "Exercise is not good."

  63. Studies show that the body's cells are stressed to release a hormone-chemical, Iris, when aerobics are done. This does good things for the metabolism. It has also been shown that weight resistance exercise produces a similar but different chemical that improves our metabolism. It seems that the different types release different chemical messengers that help our cells. See letswakeupfolks.blogspot.com-exercise for complete disscusion.

  64. I work out with an exercise physiologist at Walter Reed a couple of times a week. He challenges me, and has made a stronger woman out of me. I am 67 and love breaking my own personal records. While I hate working on my weak spots, the results are worth the increased sense of well being and normal bone density.

  65. Looking at the study, I'm not certain that it reliably demonstrates a cause and effect. Maybe healthy people lift weights. It certainly was not a blind study. Nevertheless I do lift and am hopeful it provides health benefits in addition to adding to the quality of my life.

  66. @David Campbell I suspected the same, especially when they said that folks who lifted more often showed no more benefit than people who never lifted (vs. those who lifted only a few times).

  67. Injuries that have prevented me from doing cardio work, have sent me to hit the weight racks more often, and if done properly, I can usually jump right back into cardio work, with little loss to my aerobic capacity. Weight training, aka; resistance training is the most important exercise genre, period. Its not just push, pulls, pick up, put down. Resistance training can be adapted for so much, for so many goals...unlike any other form of exercise. Just do it, and do it often. But learn more about proper form. Which can make all the difference in its effectiveness.

  68. I’m a 65-year-old woman and I’m proud of the fact that late in life I have trained myself to do plank pushups (from my toes) - at first I couldn’t even do one and now I regularly do 50 (in sets 20-15-10-5) - I also do 50 squats with weight and some core exercises - all of this speeds up my heart plenty! And combined with the cardio that I do I think I’m doing oretty well for my age! Love yhise 50 pushups!

  69. Folks who lift weights are not in training for jobs on a moving van; they’re mostly trying to look better. That same interest leads them to diets that shrink their waistlines.

  70. Maybe! I lifted last night and I’m sitting down with a French dip and kettle chips right this moment. Studies that control for these factors will be interesting. I’m eyeing the cake case, but since it’s the holidays maybe I’ll pass on lunchtime dessert. Maybe.

  71. I've been lifting a few pints daily for the past 79 years. Since I was 16. Could not enlist because of flat feet. Not sure if I can attribute my longevity to weight lifting or flat feet.

  72. @Tumiwisi When I took my physical for Viet Nam I was told my flat feet wouldn't fail me. I'll be 70 this month. Have been running since I was 4 and got my first weight set in the 6th grade. Flat feet be damned.

  73. Long gone are the days of working out in the farms or other outdoor labor, where individuals and families didn't need to pay a gym membership to lift and do repetitve movements. Sedentary jobs have most Americans sitting behind a desk for 8 hours or more a day only to return home to eat, watch TV, sleep, and repeat the process all over again. Our bodies waren't evolutionarily and genetically built for that.

  74. I'm 69 and have been lifting since I was 13. I'm a runner and never looked to bulk up. I can tell you that weight lifting gyms are full of young people. The cutoff age appears to be about 45. Except for me and a couple of other "old guys" that's about it. Starting to lift weights as an "older" person is an issue to show up at a gym full of fit young people.

  75. @DILLON Dillon, I'm 68. Just got back from the gym. Today was chest and tri-ceps day. I love to blow away the "younger" crowd. Keep on keepin' on.

  76. At 70 years old, I have to do resistance exercises everyday to take care of my flock of sheep. Hoisting myself up and over gates and lifting bales of hay twice a day and 50 pound bags of grain a couple of times a week has made me stronger and more flexible than I have ever felt in my life. Glad to hear that this activity may also benefit my heart. You start out slowly but the strength does build up over time.

  77. @OUTRAGED A purposeful workout is the best kind.

  78. @OUTRAGED. On my Fitbit I’ve found out that doing yard work like digging, raking, lots of up and down bending etc, is one of the best workouts heartrate-wise. And you don’t really notice because you’re focused on the work.

  79. Guess what? You can combine resistance training and cardiovascular work. Uphill runs or cycling, elliptical or on a high resistance setting are examples.

  80. Apple Watch and Lifting I got one for the purpose of tracking my sleep but of course I use it at the gym . I go for an hour 5 or 6 days a week trying to hit the 1000 calorie number ( which takes a bit longer than an hour) . Swim day , Strength Day, Treadmill Day , Strength Day . What i discovered was the Strength Day looks like interval training on the heart rate monitor log . My opinion is that weights are good for strength and I feel good for that reason but that they are also keeps my arteries stretched and elastic and good for my heart for that reason. I do burn fewer calories on this day but i get to talk around the gym a bit and so its also fun .

  81. @JOE very astute observation. I don't wear a heart-rate monitor when lifting, but I think recovery times between lifts are a good proxy. By that measure the comparison to interval training is very apt, at least in my experience.

  82. i just observed that depending upon the excercise i'll move my heart rate up to some number ( 140 to 150 ) when doing something more stressfull and i'll just have a seat and take it easy until it comes on down to 120 , it allows me to rest without compunction and within a frame of reference :) . The Fitbit Charge cost less , i mean to say the watches make it less of a hassle to deal with prior to the gym @RM

  83. a no brainer here.. at 67 i use light free weights resistence bands and try to walk and use stairs as much as possible instead of elevators and escalators.. not gonna win the olympics but nice to be able to take a brisk walk everyday.. use it or lose it..

  84. I am 80 and have lifted weights by myself in our finished basement for a couple of decades to maintain my distance on the golf course, be able to travel-my wife is a pack for every possible emegency person and to maintain distance fly casting. I am happy to read it also helps my heart.

  85. Most people who lift care about their bodies. They no doubt have other healthy habits, so this observation may be correlation rather than causation. Still, lifting should be part of a healthy lifestyle.

  86. @GiGi , yep but didn't this article want to argue that strength training outdid the others ; who would also tend to eat and select healthy options as well, just thinking out loud

  87. @JOE I do a variety of exercises, such as Zumba, HIIT, PIYO, and more, but I have to admit that the weights bring the visible results.

  88. @GiGi You're probably right, overall. But I know a lot of people who lift or run, etc. and because they do THAT they feel they can let their diet slide. There are certainly a lot of young meatheads out there who drink a lot and eat mostly burgers and pizza. So yes, there is certainly a correlation but likely not as high as might be imagined.

  89. This does not surprise me. When lifting, I wear a heart rate monitor that draws a chart of the whole workout. It looks like a long interval session. I hit some pretty high heart rate peaks a dozen times. I once read that the best heart conditioning was to constantly change the demands on the heart -- like a cross country workout. Some treadmills have built in programs that simulate that. A good book for novices is "Weight Training For Dummies." No offense intended.

  90. 'People who lifted twice a week, for about an hour or so in total, had the greatest declines in risk' excuse me if I suspect input from the professional fitness and gym industry seeking more paid-up memberships - even tho' most won't - actually - go - there - much ...

  91. so when a study shows that exercise is healthy, you suspect that the gym industry behind it? i guess that this is a sign of the times, when even the most common-sensical advice is distrusted by information-fatigued readers. how sad.

  92. @Frank: For many of us in a Medicare Advantage program, some sort of gym membership comes as part of the package at no extra charge. My assumption has always been that the bean counters at the plan figure paying for gym membership is better for the bottom line than paying for whatever happens when a member doesn't exercise regularly.

  93. There you go. Exercise, weights bearing exercise, is important. It s rewarding also. Do not be shy. Check it out.

  94. 50kg of dumbbells is all the resistance you will ever need. Your home gym! Youtube is choc-a-bloc with routines. Great workout and good for the heart apparently, lucky me. Don't skip stretching; I recommend 'yin-yoga' for those with time on their hands. Have a nice winter.

  95. Thank you for this article. As a 6-year Stroke Survivor, any information that encourages people to manage their own health is a good thing. Heart disease and stroke can kill and disable. Health is the true wealth, and many don’t realize it until after a health “scare”. I’m glad (and blessed!) that my stroke outcome was positive and that I can serve as a reminder to others that it could happen to ANYONE. Read and absorb, folks! Thank you again, NYT.

  96. My trick as older Adult is to Do No Harm when lifting . My first guess is most of us have injuries and some of the injuries can be relieved with the right excercise while others will not. There is a art to staying injury free that has a lot to do with not competing with your neighbor ( which at 59 i still have an inclination to do ) . There is also art to introducing new excercises , i think , one at a time with a day to listen to how it felt and it is super fun attempting to feel good from the gym , i'm lucky to have one nearby and to enjoy the people who go there as well. As a sidenote the heart rate monitor on the wrist beats the polar strap for a lot of reasons

  97. So where does yoga, which uses the weight of your own body for "weight/resistance" workouts, fit in? I do an hour and 15 minutes of yoga 5 times a week, plus an hour of floor Pilates exercise once a week. I also take 5 vigorous dance classes a week, with moves that also use the body's own weight in routines that build strength in a variety of muscle groups. I've known more than a few women who've managed to injure themselves with weights, particularly rotator cuff issues. Where does yoga and dance fit into weight training besides being a whole lot more fun?

  98. @Susan R I didn't infer from the article that it was meant to pit weight training against other forms of exercise, I thought the article merely meant to highlight the cardiac benefits of weight training. That being said, yoga is not benign and one can certainly hurt oneself doing yoga, even carefully. Yoga can place great stress on the ankles and particularly the wrists. Also, for those with acid reflux, being upside down for yoga poses can bring about digestive distress, burning and spasms. There's a right exercise plan for just about everyone, and the article indicates that if weight training is for you, there's a newfound cardio benefit.

  99. @Susan R I agree with the points Denny is making. Would only like to add that the rotator cuff is also a muscle that needs to be trained and strengthened, the trick is that since it is so small, care has to be taken and the right protocol has to be followed (i.e., starting light with dedicated exercises to build endurance first, then progress higher for strength, but since it is a small muscle one will never need high weight to train it). Not to mention that often it is just neglected and it is exactly that that makes problems.

  100. @Susan R Yoga, Pilates & dance are all good. Re weight training: many people use WAAAYYY too heavy a weight to start, and don't seek instruction on proper form. I did squats incorrectly for YEARS - with the result being sore knees - until someone finally told me my form was wrong! Same thing with upper body weight. Swinging the weights, bending the back, etc. I have had several trainers who showed me proper form and I haven't had a problem since.

  101. I find I take most articles on health & nutrition with a grain of salt. the bottom line is MOVE YOUR BODY and find what works best for you. I do a combination of yoga (strength, flexibility and balance), strength/weight training (good for bones, muscles and apparently heart health), and cardio (good for heart health). And I eat lean protein with lots of fruits & veggies, with a glass of wine. I'm in my 60s and still ski, bike, hike, etc. My gym routine helps me be able to do all my outdoor activities with minimal injury and - more importantly - MAXIMUM enjoyment. Physical activity is the ultimate fountain of youth.

  102. Free weights is better than other exercises as the others are a constant,the body soon gets used to doing what ever it is,running,walking, cycling etc. With free weights the resistance can and should be increased and the body responds . With free weights you an have a cardio workout which is also building muscle or straight out body building. Free weights will cause the heart to work harder and as it is a muscle, will grow and be strong,won't happen with the others because the resistence is constant.You also get flexibility from free weights.

  103. @b.fynn You can get the same benefits with yoga using one's own bodyweight. Without any grunting, of course.

  104. @b.fynn fynn... Hope you look back to see my honest question. How do you view weight machines? When I have used free weights I sometimes use poor form. Machines seem.to reduce that. ???

  105. I lift 4x a week, heavy weights and found my back pain and joint pain decreased after a few years. need to scale into it slowly and preferably with a partner

  106. As a clinical exercise physiologist I welcome the sharing of this positive news about exercise. Even though this leaves us with more questions, they are great questions to be asking. Strength training, I find, is one of the most underutilized and misunderstood forms of exercise. Mainly because most programs were born from bodybuilding or sports training or are designed based on the myth of spot reducing. It is very important, if your reason for exercise is to improve wellbeing, to find a program specifically designed for functioning well in daily life. Please do not just follow exercises in magazines or free on You Tube. Base what you do for exercise on your 'why' for doing it. Exercise training results are specific to the way you exercise. Even in my exercise physiology education, I had to seek additional information about biomechanics to truly understand the how the body moves well. Thank you for this article and sharing the research.

  107. When I was in graduate school, I herniated my fifth lumbar disk and the pressure on my back forced me to stand upright during many a difficult seminar. My neurologist advised me to “put myself upright,” while leaning against a back wall in the classroom. He also sent me to rehab where I learned how to strengthen my “core” muscles through a vigorous weight-lifting regiment. And it worked! My lower lumbar never felt better in my life. Now, when someone queries me about my spine, I just belt out the Elton John lyric, “I’m still standing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.”

  108. Using your muscles keeps you alive longer? Who knew? But some of you working out in my gym are deluding yourselves. I'm talking to those of you with the grotesquely huge muscles. You have manifestly cheated, you have defiled your body and you are courting early death. And you look, at best comical, and at worst, like gorillas.

  109. Exercise is still boring.

  110. @Bubo Change it up. I could never stick to a gym membership or workout plan - until I joined my MMA gym. Now, 2 1/2 years later, I'm all in and go to the gym at least 5 times a week, usually 6. I've lost 50 pounds since I started and am wearing my daughter's prom dress to my next work gala! Bonus: I get to punch people :)

  111. If you make variations in your training routine and keep your eye on the prize it doesn’t have to be boring. I do different sports every 6 months or so. Six months gym, six months pool, six months walking/running. All the while I ride horses 3-4 days. Never get bored!

  112. @Bubo Uh, but whether it's 'boring' or not, depends on you and your outlook. Start out by nurturing a more positive attitude toward working-out and toward life.

  113. 50% fewer events! Remarkable, way better than the leading drugs used to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and death. Way better! And no side effects.

  114. @Samm, actually, exercise does have side effects -- though usually only good ones! It said so right in the article: "muscle-building, flab-trimming and, according to recent research, mood-boosting benefits."

  115. Again, a correlation sold as causal relationship. Am I healthy because I lift weights, or do I lift weights because I am healthy ? Useless.

  116. Did you actually read the article? It specifically cautioned against reading this associational study as proving causation. But the researchers identified areas of further study. The correlation between lifting and better heart outcomes is also interesting, given that it existed even if the participants weren’t meeting the endurance exercise goals.

  117. Whether it is useful to the heart or not, lifting weights, especially if one has an otherwise sedentary lifestyle, makes sense. Not only does it build muscle, but it also helps burn more calories, because muscle built by weight-lifting burns more calories than fat. Weight lifting doesn't have to be strenuous. Resistance bands and/or light weights lifted very slowly work well.

  118. this article mis-cites the original research study. a google scholar search retrieves no such article published in october in "Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise" (nor any by co-author Dr. Lee published in that journal). ms. reynolds is encouraged to properly cite studies that form the basis of a publication.

  119. If you click the link it will take you to the article, I didn't have any trouble

  120. It's a preprint, that's why you didn't see it in Google Scholar.

  121. Weightlifting is awesome and obviously beneficial. But it was really intimidating when I first decided to hit the free weights at the gym. I wasn't exactly sure what to do, and my form was far from perfect. The game changer for me was finding a workout partner that had the same goals as me. There are a lot of workout partner apps out there (my favorite is www.enjifit.com, awesome app, super easy to use) that can connect you with somebody to hold you accountable and show you the ropes. As someone else mentioned below, take it slow and scale when you need to. And have a partner to keep your form in check so you don't injure yourself. There's no downside to using your muscles!

  122. Thank you for reporting on this article, it is most useful and timely.

  123. Encouraging but credibility diminished; "interestingly[?], the subjects who reported weight training four or more times per week did not show any significant health benefits...the researchers believe this finding is probably a statistical anomaly." Hard to believe this was a peer-reviewed study. Such an an anomaly should have caused additional review of the entire assemblage of the subset of subjects who reported weight training four or more times per week. The entire analysis is rendered, suspect.

  124. "Lifting Weights" Is that free weights, machine weights, or Body Weight workouts. At what effort level. While the article is interesting it is not really helpful Thanks.

  125. @w......I agree.. I was hoping to see an exercise regimen of some sort. My shoulder is not what it used to be and I can no longer do the 20 push-ups that sustained my muscle mass for many years.

  126. @w, I have been in the fitness industry for 12 years, and I understand your confusion. But in reality, any of the forms of "lifting weights" would be of benefit. If you are at least doing push and pull movements in the upper body and squat or lunge type movements for the lower body, and engaging your core as you do, you are at least involving every muscle group. Reach fatigue a couple times each session, and do a coupe sessions a week. People like to argue about what the "right" form of resistance training is, but at the end of the day, the differences are minimal and easily adjusted for if they need to be. So pick your favorite or whatever fits your life best.