Strength Training Improves Artery Function Among Healthy Men in their 60's
strengthening exercises appear to help, not harm, older adults' artery
function, a small study suggests.
In general, experts advise that young and old alike include both aerobic
activities and strength training in their exercise routines. For older
adults, the benefits may include stronger muscles and bones, fewer physical
limitations and a lower risk of falls and fractures.
However, research in young adults has found that strength-building
resistance exercises seem to increase "stiffness" in the arteries -- effects
that would be concerning in older adults, whose risk of heart disease and
stroke is already elevated.
In the new study, however, Japanese researchers found that strength training
seemed to improve artery function in a group of healthy men in their 60s.
The researchers, led by Dr. Seiji Maeda of the University of Tsukuba, report
their findings in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Specifically, a 12-week leg strengthening regimen boosted the men's blood
levels of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps dilate the arteries. Nitric
oxide levels in the blood are a marker of how well the artery walls are
On the other hand, non-invasive tests found no evidence connecting strength
exercises to stiffening in the body's major arteries.
"The results suggest that resistance training in older adults would produce
beneficial effects on the vasculature without any unfavorable effects,"
Maeda's team writes.
Still, the researchers note, larger, more extensive studies should continue
to follow the long-term effects of strength training on older adults' artery
SOURCE: British Journal of Sports Medicine, October 2006.