Blood vessels react differently to weight training than aerobic exercise, and this altered reaction may be beneficial to long-term cardiovascular health. A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research analyzes the benefits of resistance training over aerobic training in terms of cardiovascular health.
Researchers explain how lifting weights could provide superior health benefits as the blood vessels expand more to provide extra blood to the muscles in need. Scott R. Collier, Ph.D., from Appalachian State University, explains that muscles require additional blood as they are stressed, creating increased circulation and flow throughout the body.
For this study, researchers analyzed blood circulation differences between weight lifting and aerobic biking. Dilation (widening), and stiffness of the blood vessels were measured. Generally speaking, more dilation and less stiffness are measures of proper cardiovascular health.
Significant differences were present between the two types of exercise. While resistance training slightly increased stiffness, significant dilation occurred throughout the body. Aerobic exercise reduced blood vessel stiffness, but did not appear to increase overall blood circulation.
Blood pressure decreases were present longer after resistance training when compared to aerobic training.
This study further proves previous studies about the effects of resistance and aerobic training. This study also showed additional benefits of weight training and the benefits of blood pressure and blood circulation.
Dr. Collier suggests resistance training to be a part of a daily exercise program as it provides great cardiovascular benefit. If not a primary source of exercise, weight training should definitely supplement aerobic exercise.