Tag Archives: Cardio

Resistance and Aerobic Training: New research says both together is better for heart health

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in older adults.  Heart disease kills about 600,000 Americans annually.  Heart disease is the most common cause of death for women.  It is more common than breast cancer, which tends to get more attention.  Many women who suffer heart attacks do not have previous signs of symptoms (approximately 2/3rds will have a sudden heart attack).  Major risk factors for heart disease are:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Obesity
  3. Poor blood lipid profile (dyslipidemia)
  4. Inactivity
Coconut oil and CrossFit Masters
CrossFit Masters Athletes combine aerobic and resistance training all the time.

An obese individual can expect to lose 6-7 years of life.  This can matter a lot to the individual, but also to his or her family, who may lose that person’s love, support and companionship.  Exercise reduces all four of the major risk factors for heart disease.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association all recommend 20-30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise every day for adults.

Resistance training is also recommended, but with an eye to improving functional fitness into old age.   Little research has been done on the benefits of resistance training as a means of improving cardiovascular health.

Exercise:  resistance training and aerobic training reduced risk of heart disease

A new study from the Research Center in Sports Science, Health Sciences and Human Development and the Research Center in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, Faculty of Sport and the University Porto, in Porto, Portugal examined the effects of aerobic training alone vs. aerobic and resistance training together and got some interesting results.  Here are some of the study details:

  • Subjects were 59 older men
  • Men were divided into three groups: Aerobic training, aerobic and resistance training or no training.
  • None of the men had cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or was severely overweight
  • Men had no previous history of exercise training or recreational sports

The Training Programs lasted 32 weeks:

  • Aerobic Training Group: ran or did brisk walks two days a week and swimming training 1 day a week at levels that were perceived by participants as “moderate intensity”.  Each training session included a 10 minute warm up, 3 sets of 15-20 rep body weight exercises and a five minute cool down with stretching.  Subjects did agility exercises in the pool for 10 minutes each session.  Agility exercises included water volley-ball and water polo.  Sounds like a fun program.
  • Resistance and Aerobic Training Group:  did the same exercises as the Aerobic Training group except that one of the dry-land aerobic sessions was replaced with resistance training.  Resistance training consisted of 65% of one rep max with three sets of 8-10 reps of bench press, leg press, lateral pull-down, leg exension, military press, leg curl and arm curl.  Subjects also worked on their abs and backs.
  • Control Group: carried on with normal life

Results:

No improvements in hypertension , obesity or dyslipidemia were seen in the Aerobic Training Group.  Disappointing.   Maybe a longer training period was needed.  Hard to say.  Improvements were observed in the Resistance and Aerobic Training Group.  Improvements were seen in:

  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia

Discussion:

 Eye Pood Kettlebell Shirt
Eye Pood Kettlebell Shirt by WODMASTERS

Why didn’t the aerobic training group show improvements?  Perhaps the exercise program wasn’t intense enough.  Maybe improvements would have been seen if the exercise program had lasted longer.  Maybe it is important to increase the intensity beyond moderate, especially over time.   Perhaps the resistance training program provided more aerobic training.  8-10 reps may be like short sprints for the cardio-vascular system. Short bouts of intense exercise can be very effective (See High Intensity Impact Training).  More research is needed, but for what we have so far it looks like combining both is better than just aerobic training alone.  If you do crossfit you are doing this already.

 

Sousa N, Mendes R, Abrantes C, Sampaio J, & Oliveira J (2013). Long-term effects of aerobic training versus combined aerobic and resistance training in modifying cardiovascular disease risk factors in healthy elderly men. Geriatrics & gerontology international, 13 (4), 928-35 PMID: 23441809

Crossfit High Intensity Interval Workouts

Crossfit – High Intensity Interval Training workouts.

crossfit men discuss womens resistence training
Two ugly crossfit men talk about crossfit, high intensity interval training workouts and WODMASTERS WORKOUT SHIRTS.  Why aren’t they weraing them now?  Get to the shop guys.

Endurance exercise is recommended for cardiovascular health.  Years of research have found that about 30 minutes of cardio will reduce risk of stroke and heart attack.  It will also improve insulin sensitivity, reduce risk of diabetes and improve memory and brain function.  Until very recently, there has been little research on the benefits of CrossFit type exercise on health.  These studies focus on High Intensity Interval Training.  High Intensity Interval Training workouts consist of multiple sets of intense exercise that last 1-4 minutes.  These are spaced with short rest periods.  Or periods of light exercise.

High Intensity Interval Training Workouts with gas mark.
There are so many ways to make life harder. High Intensity Interval Training Workouts can make you hurt faster

Research on this approach to exercise indicates that this approach may number of ways.  These include cardio and respiratory fitness.  And also insulin sensitivity and arterial stiffness.  Arterial stiffness is an indicator for risk of cardiovascular disease.  It is also looking like High Intensity Interval Training may be better at controlling or preventing high blood pressure than the traditional 30 minutes of sustained cardio.

CrossFit Training vs. Running?

The question of is CrossFit better than running is not known yet.  And CrossFit is different than the types of High Intensity Interval Training being tested.  In a nutshell, CrossFit is a fitness program that involves high intensity exercise.  Many different muscle groups are targeted in a CrossFit workout (also known as a CrossFit WOD.)  Workouts may last 5-20 minutes and involve springs, weight lifting, pull-ups and other bodyweight exercises.  If you are wondering “what is CrossFit” try this link. CrossFit exercises may or may not include periods of rest between sets.  However, there is a lot of shifting of focus.  Intensity may be sustained, but not sustained on the same muscle groups.  This might be better for vascular health.

CrossFit High Intensity Interval Training.

crossfit shirt rhino crossfit masters
Stiff, Inflexible, Invincible WODMasters shirt for the Masters CrossFit Athlete. And for other people who may also be stiff and inflexible.

Short periods of high intensity interval training type exercise improve capillary growth.  This allows for greater blood flow to tissues.  Including muscle.   It is possible that intense exercise impacting multiple muscle groups would be better than exercise that impacts only legs (as in running). This is an exciting area of research.  It will be interesting to see what comes up next.  Hopefully more research will be done soon that will look at whether or not CrossFit or High Intensity Interval Training does as well with brain health and control of diabetes.  For a look at recent papers take a look at:

Cocks, M., Shaw, C., Shepherd, S., Fisher, J., Ranasinghe, A., Barker, T., Tipton, K., & Wagenmakers, A. (2012). Sprint interval and endurance training are equally effective in increasing muscle microvascular density and eNOS content in sedentary males The Journal of Physiology, 591 (3), 641-656 DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.239566

Spence AL, Carter HH, Naylor LH, & Green D (2013). A prospective randomised longitudinal study involving 6-months of endurance or resistance exercise on conduit artery adaptation in humans. The Journal of physiology PMID: 23247114

CrossFit vs Running: Is CrossFit as good for cardiovascular health as running?

CrossFit vs Running: evidence from High Intensity Interval Training.

For Crossfit Womens Shirt by WODMasters
For Crossfit Womens Shirt by WODMasters: Mona Lisa and Her Kettlebells. By us. Not by Crossfit the brand. Don’t be confused.

Endurance exercise is recommended for cardiovascular health.  High Intensity Interval Training (like CrossFit) shows promising results.  Years of research have found that about 30 minutes of cardio will reduce risk of stroke and heart attack.  It will also improve insulin sensitivity, reduce risk of diabetes and improve memory and brain function.  Until very recently, there has been little research on the benefits of CrossFit type exercise on health.  These studies focus on High Intensity Interval Training.  High Intensity Interval Training consists of multiple sets of intense exercise that last 1-4 minutes.  These are spaced with short rest periods.  Or periods of light exercise.  Research on this approach to exercise indicates that this approach may be better than running (or other sustained types of cardio) in a number of ways.  These include cardio and respiratory fitness.  And also insulin sensitivity and arterial stiffness.  Arterial stiffness is an indicator for risk of cardiovascular disease.  It is also looking like High Intensity Interval Training may be better at controlling or preventing high blood pressure than the traditional 30 minutes of sustained cardio.

Is CrossFit better than running?

The question of is CrossFit better than running is not known yet.  And CrossFit is different than the types of High Intensity Interval Training being tested.  In a nutshell, CrossFit is a fitness program that involves high intensity exercise.  Many different muscle groups are targeted in a CrossFit workout (also known as a CrossFit WOD.)  Workouts may last 5-20 minutes and involve springs, weight lifting, pull-ups and other bodyweight exercises.  If you are wondering “what is CrossFit” try this link. CrossFit exercises may or may not include periods of rest between sets.  However, there is a lot of shifting of focus.  Intensity may be sustained, but not sustained on the same muscle groups.  This might be better for vascular health.

CrossFit vs Running: More research needed

Short periods of high intensity exercise improve capillary growth.  This allows for greater blood flow to tissues.  Including muscle.   It is possible that intense exercise impacting multiple muscle groups would be better than exercise that impacts only legs (as in running). This is an exciting area of research.  It will be interesting to see what comes up next.  Hopefully more research will be done soon that will look at whether or not CrossFit or High Intensity Interval Training does as well with brain health and control of diabetes.  For a look at recent papers take a look at:

Cocks, M., Shaw, C., Shepherd, S., Fisher, J., Ranasinghe, A., Barker, T., Tipton, K., & Wagenmakers, A. (2012). Sprint interval and endurance training are equally effective in increasing muscle microvascular density and eNOS content in sedentary males The Journal of Physiology, 591 (3), 641-656 DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.239566

Spence AL, Carter HH, Naylor LH, & Green D (2013). A prospective randomised longitudinal study involving 6-months of endurance or resistance exercise on conduit artery adaptation in humans. The Journal of physiology PMID: 23247114