As wonderful as aerobic exercise is for the circulatory system, it should be balanced by resistance training, more commonly known as weight lifting. Resistance training improves the muscles and nerve pathways that direct and control movement. It also increases strength and general fitness, including enhanced function of the respiratory, cardiac, and metabolic systems.
For years, the cardiovascular benefits of resistance training were thought to be merely a side effect of lifting weights. But over the last decade, it has become clear that weight training decreases heart rate, reduces blood pressure, improves cholesterol profiles, fortifies the elasticity of arteries, and increases cardiorespiratory fitness.
Many health clubs, colleges, and recreation centers are equipped with both free weights and weight machines. But before you begin, make sure you get instruction on the proper way to use the equipment. Although committing to a regular weight-training routine—at least three times a week—may require a bit of willpower, you’ll be rewarded with a stronger, leaner body and a healthier circulatory system.
Pick the Right Weight: To prevent sore muscles and possible injury when you lift, it’s wise to start slowly. Choose the lowest weight possible and start by doing 10 to 12 repetitions on each side. Over the next few weeks, increase the weight and the number of repetitions.
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