A new study was published this past October 2010 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research evaluating the impact of resistance training versus aerobic training on arterial blood flow.
Research to date has shown a significantly lower arterial distensibility (AD) after resistance training, but a higher AD after aerobic exercise. Arterial distensibility (AD) is a measure of blood vessel elasticity. For heart health it's important that blood vessels are able to expand and contract to maintain a consistent healthy blood pressure.
It's been speculated that changes in AD (blood vessel elasticity) may be related to exercise-induced difference in vasodilatory capacity (the ability of blood vessels to dilate).
The purpose of this recent study was to investigate the vasodilatory and AD responses to acute aerobic exercise and resistance exercise.
The study focused on 10 healthy men with an average age of 25 years-old. Forearm blood flow during reactive hyperemia was assessed before and after 60 minutes of exercise. (Reactive hyperemia is simply a measure of the transient increase in organ blood flow after a brief period of arterial occlusion. For example, reactive hyperemia occurs after removing a tourniquet.)
Aortic and femoral pulse wave velocity was also measured to assess arterial stiffness pre-workout, 40 minutes post, and 60 minutes post an acute phase of aerobic exercise (30 minute cycling) and resistance exercise (3 sets of 10 reps for upper and lower body).
Researchers found arterial stiffness to decrease with aerobic exercise, but blood flow to limbs did not increase. With resistance training blood flow to limbs was increased, but there was also a slight increase in arterial stiffness. Resistance training did result in a longer blood pressure drop following exercise when compared with aerobic exercise.
Researchers concluded that changes in arterial distensibility are not associated with changes in vasodilatory capacity after acute exercise. When comparing resistance exercise to aerobic exercise, resistance exercise has a greater impact on blood flow and reduced blood pressure post exercise.
The Take Away
When working to achieve heart health, reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, and lower blood pressure it's essential to use a combination or aerobic and resistance exercises to achieve optimal results. Both forms of exercise have distinct benefits that impact the heart and vascular system.
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Published On: December 03, 2010