Weight lifting can help heart disease patients

July 19, 2007 - 0:0

BEIJING (Xinhuanet) -- Weight lifting, also known as resistance training, can provide multiple benefits for patients with heart disease and can be safely performed if certain guidelines are followed, according to a report by the American Heart Association (AHA) Monday.

""Just like we once learned that people with heart disease benefited from aerobic exercise, we are now learning that guided, moderate weight training also has significant benefits,"" said Dr. Mark A. Williams, chair of the AHA writing group, ""Resistance training helps people better perform tasks of daily living -- like lifting sacks of groceries."" Resistance training is also associated with improvements in life quality and reduced disability in people with and without heart disease, according to the AHA report. The report also describes the appropriate resistance or weight load for patients initiating resistance training. For instance, the initial load should allow healthy sedentary adults to perform 8 to 12 repetitions per set. ""The emphasis at the early stage of training is to allow time for the muscles to adapt and to practice good technique, thus reducing the potential for excessive muscle soreness and injury,"" Williams explained. The report cited one study of a 10-week period of resistance training among nursing home residents with an average age of 87 that resulted in improvements in strength and stair-climbing power. In another study of older women who were heart failure patients, 10 weeks of resistance training resulted in a 43 percent increase in muscle strength and a 49 percent increase in the distance covered in a six-minute walk. Resistance weight training includes using one's body for weight resistance by doing things like abdominal crunches to using resistance-cord exercises, dumbbells, wrist weights or weight machines. Resistance training isn't recommended for people with conditions such as unstable heart disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure or heart-rhythm disorders and other serious problems