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Close-up of young woman sitting and lifting dumbbell, she training her muscles on her hands

These 5 activities build lean muscle and can improve your heart health.

These 5 activities build lean muscle and can improve your heart health.

Lifting weights does more than build strong bones. Strength training can also contribute to heart health by building lean muscle mass, which helps to burn extra calories, keep blood sugar in check and improve cholesterol levels.

Strength training, especially for older adults, can also make it easier to perform everyday activities such as lifting a bag of groceries. Resistance exercises are also important for bone health and can help prevent osteoporosis.

Many fitness centers offer low-impact strength-training classes. But if you can't get to a gym and feel uncomfortable working with weights at home, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests trying some of the following activities to build strength:

  • Working with resistance bands, weight machines, or hand-held weights
  • Doing push-ups, sit-ups and other bodyweight resistance exercises
  • Heavy gardening (digging, lifting, and carrying)
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Tai Chi

The American Heart Association® recommends performing 8 to 10 resistance exercises two days a week. Look for exercises that use all the major muscle groups – legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms. Try to do each exercise to the point of muscle fatigue but stop immediately if you feel any pain.

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Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS