In a recent study, researchers from Iowa State University and the University of California-Riverside compared the effectiveness of strength training, aerobic training and a combination of both types of training in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The results are published in the “European Heart Journal”.
A total of 406 people aged 35 to 70 took part in the new study. The team reports that they suffered from overweight or obesity and also had elevated blood pressure.
One hour training three times a week
All participants were randomly assigned to either strength training, endurance training or combined endurance and strength training. There was also a control group that did not undergo any training.
Over a period of one year, the participants completed their assigned training three times a week, which lasted one hour each in the strength training group and the endurance training group. The combined training, on the other hand, consisted of half an hour of endurance training and half an hour of strength training, the researchers explain.
Training program individually tailored
A tailor-made training program was created for all participants who were not part of the control group, which was based on the individual fitness level, health status and progress achieved.
Participants, including those in the control group, also wore a pedometer to record their daily steps and attended nutritional counseling every three months to learn about nutritional approaches to combat high blood pressure, the team said.
At the beginning of the clinical study, known risk factors for cardiovascular disease were also measured: systolic blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, fasting blood sugar and body fat percentage.
“Many previous studies have only looked at one of these four factors, but there are actually several factors together that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease,” explains study author Professor Duck-chul Lee in a press release.
On three random days per month, participants were also asked to indicate online what they had eaten in the last 24 hours in order to also record nutritional factors.
What effect did the training have?
The results of the new study show that all three types of training contributed to a significant reduction in body fat compared to the control group, the researchers report.
Taking the other cardiovascular risk factors into account, it became clear that adults who are overweight or obese can effectively reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases through endurance training or combined endurance and strength training, but not through strength training alone, the researchers explain.
Benefits of combined training
“Combined training also offers some other unique health benefits, such as improving your muscles,” adds Professor Lee.
Those who don’t like endurance exercise or suffer from joint pain that makes running long distances difficult can at least partially replace endurance exercise with strength training to achieve the same cardiovascular benefits, the research team concluded. (as)