Most of us exercise to become healthier. One of the biggest factors in this decision for many
people is their heart. We are told that being fitter is beneficial for our heart. But what type of
fitness is best? It has been shown that the most beneficial, long term thing for heart health is
losing body fat. The easiest way to do this long term is to gain lean muscle mass!
But is strength based training the best type of training for your heart? Studies have shown that
those who had primarily lost fat during adolescence and young adulthood were much less
likely than those who had gained muscle to develop risk factors such as high glucose,
inflammation or “bad” cholesterol by age 25. The big issue that many people end up with
through strength based training is that they neglect their body fat content, as their main focus
is gaining muscle. This can easily be overcome incorporating additional cardiovascular
exercise into a strength training program!
While increased muscle is important for maintaining your mobility and independence, fat loss
seems to be a higher priority when it comes to keeping markers for heart disease under
control. So, to answer the question, losing fat is more important for heart health than
increasing muscle. However, you can have both at the same time!
The best thing that you can do to ensure that your heart remains healthy, is to ensure that you
have a healthy lifestyle, from as early in your life as you can. This includes a healthy diet, as
well as a healthy amount of all types of exercise. Missing out any part of this will almost
always result in an imbalance. Not necessarily with your heart, but somewhere. If you don’t
strength train, you will have trouble doing day to do activities as you get older. If you don’t
include cardio exercise into your program, you may be able to lift anything you want, but a
flight of stairs is going to seem daunting. And if you don’t have a healthy eating routine, not
only will it be much harder to achieve anything physically, but eventually something will
“pop-up” for you that will undo all the hard work you have done with your exercise.