New Study Suggests Strength Training Improves Cardiovascular Health

A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” – Spanish Proverb

Fitness trainer Cory A. Haywood (and author of this piece) on the beach working out.

*With every passing day thousands of men, young and old, pack their duffel bags, lace their cross-trainers, mix their pre-workout drinks and dawn their headphones before heading to the local gym.

The objective therein varies from person to person. Some exercise for their health. Others do so to improve their physiques. And some make the trip to keep their wives happy. But no matter the reason, most if not all gym-going men have spent some time huffing and puffing in the weight room.

However, a recent study (“The Effect of Resistance Training on Biomarkers of Vascular Function and Oxidative Stress in Young African American and Caucasian Men”), boldly suggests that ‘pumping iron’ is most beneficial to the cardiovascular health of young Black males, beyond all others. This conclusion was gathered after two groups of healthy, college-aged males underwent six weeks of intensive, regimented physical training.

The process was divided into three individual, non-consecutive workouts per week. One specific day was designated for participants to train their backs, arms and legs. The following meeting emphasized conditioning of the chest, shoulders and trapezius muscles (located at each end of the neck). Day 3 would feature either of the prior workouts.

“Our [data] showed that as a result of resistance training Black men can improve the health of their arteries faster than white men,” explained Bo Fernhall, dean of the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He also spearheaded the entire analytic process that preceded the findings during the study. “We have no idea how to explain this. But the results are what they are. “

There is a catch, however. As it stands, the science doesn’t include, and therefore doesn’t apply to, at least for now, males beyond their thirties, Fernhall went on to say.

“We don’t have data beyond that age-range right now. It’s possible that older men may have the same results. But that’s yet to be determined. We’re looking into it,” he assured.

Researchers at UIC, including Fernhall, hypothesize that the blood vessels (arteries) of even young, healthy black men show greater dysfunction than that of their white counterparts. The results included stiffening and thickening of the blood vessels over time. These conditions potentially lead to irregular blood flow (high blood pressure) as well as long-term damage to the heart and kidneys.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure and kidney disease. Furthermore,TIME.com recently released a report that Black men have the highest rate of hypertension-related death of any group in the U.S. (three times the rate of white men), partly because high blood pressure goes untreated in so many African Americans.

“Higher blood pressures in African Americans, particularly …read more