Indulging in weightlifting for less than an hour a week may reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 per cent, suggests a new study.
Weightlifting less than an hour a week may cut stroke risk
Less than an hour of weekly resistance exercise compared with no resistance exercise was associated with a 29 per cent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome including diabetes.
However, spending more than an hour in the weight room did not yield any additional benefit, the researchers said.
"People may think they need to spend a lot of time lifting weights but just two sets of bench presses that take less than five minutes could be effective," said Duck-chul Lee, Associate Professor from the Iowa State University in the US.
The results -- some of the first to look at resistance exercise and cardiovascular disease -- show benefits of strength training are independent of running, walking or other aerobic activity.
In other words, one does not need to meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic physical activity to lower your risk; weight training alone is enough.
"Lifting any weight that increases resistance on your muscles is the key," said Lee.
For the study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the team included 13,000 adults with a mean age of 47 years.
However, the researchers recognised that unlike aerobic activity, resistance exercise is not as easy to incorporate into daily routine. Hence, hitting a gym may be more beneficial.
"Muscle is the power plant to burn calories. Building muscle helps move your joints and bones... (and) also helps prevent obesity and provide long-term benefits on various health outcomes," Lee noted.