Strength training has long been hailed as the best way to gain strength, mobility, and stamina. However, recent studies have shown there’s more to resistance training than building your biceps! New research proves that regular strength training can benefit your body in numerous unexpected ways, from aiding in blood sugar control to preventing osteoporosis. Strength training can even boost your self-esteem and reduce anxiety. While these amazing advantages are enough to send most of us running to the gym, strength training’s most impressive benefit may be its ability to boost heart health and lengthen your lifespan.

Strength Training Promotes Heart Health

Cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, running, and biking, is often considered the best way to promote heart health and longevity. However, researchers are discovering that strength training is also cardioprotective. One study, conducted at Appalachian State University, analyzed the body’s responses to cardiovascular exercise versus strength training. Participants were divided into two groups. One group performed eight traditional strength training exercises, while the other group cycled at a moderate pace for 30 minutes. Researchers discovered that participants who lifted weights experienced greater increases in blood flow than their cardio counterparts.

A more recent study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, analyzed the heart health of 12,591 middle-aged participants over the course of 19 years. During follow-ups, participants were asked to self-report if they engaged in resistance training, how often, and for how long. Astoundingly, researchers found that participants who engaged in strength training up to three times per week for under one hour were 40% – 70% less likely to develop and/or die from heart disease.

Strength Training Could Lengthen Your Life

In addition to its ability to protect the heart, strength training can also boost longevity in other ways, including reducing your risk for the age-related accumulation of abdominal fat, which is linked to metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Strength training can also improve balance, reducing your risk for debilitating falls or injuries. Best of all, regular strength training boosts vitality and is associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality (or death for any reason)!

Clearly, strength training is key to a long and healthy life. If you’re new to strength training, starting a program may seem challenging. Fortunately, strength training doesn’t necessarily mean hoisting heavy weights at your local gym. You can strength train at home using resistance tubing, ankle weights, light dumbbells, or even your own body weight! For help getting started, log-on to the VHPGO app and download one of our fitness plans or search our live and on-demand fitness classes. We’re here to help you reap the benefits of regular strength training and create a stronger, healthier you!