Authors of a new research studying examining the effects of strength training on metabolic syndrome (a clustering of risk factors that pre-dispose to heart disease including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, abdominal fat, and elevated blood sugar) published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings concluded that strength training, independent of aerobic exercise, reduced risk of metabolic disease risk by 29%. Perhaps even more interesting, the research indicated that a relatively small amount of strength training produced the best outcomes.
Lead researcher, Esmee Bakker, concludes, "Our results indicate that a modest amount of resistance exercise, such as two 30-minute sessions per week, has the most beneficial effect. These findings should be included in the standard medical recommendations for preventing metabolic syndrome and future cardiovascular disease." In follow-up analysis of subjects with high cholesterol, the same researchers concluded, “Compared with no resistance exercise, less than one hour per week of resistance exercise, independent of aerobic exercise, is associated with a significantly lower risk of development of hypercholesterolemia in men. However, the lowest risk of hypercholesterolemia was found at 58 min per week of resistance exercise. This finding suggests that resistance exercise should be encouraged to prevent hypercholesterolemia in men.
Bottom Line: To ward off heart disease, strength train twice per week from approximately 30 minutes each time.