A member of another user group asked this question, which may be of great
interest here, as well:
<<I got this article from www.healthcentral.com, and is from Dr. Dean
Addel's web page. It seems a little premature for the doc to be using this
one study to support the claim . . I would like to know some in depth
information about the study. He may be scaring people off from weight
training without all the facts. What do you think?
<<Weight Training Hard On Arteries
A new study says weight training can result in stiffer arteries. This is
something that happens as we age, but itís the first time Iíve seen this
condition resulting from weight training.
What happens is pulse pressure increases because the arteries donít expand.
The clinical significance of the study isnít well defined, the researchers
say in the publication 'Hypertension'.
The stiffer arteries donít occur if aerobic exercises are added to the
training program, so it could have something to do with the repetitive nature
of weight lifting. I donít think our muscles were meant to pump iron in a
constant up and down motion. Stiffer arteries could have something to do with
the rigid positions strength training requires.
This study could be another good reason to just hang out on the sofa.
***I have read that and many related articles on changes in arterial
compliance with different activities and the researchers so far admit that no
one really knows what to make of those findings (involving a team of
scientists working with Dr Kingwell). They state clearly that they do not
know if the change in arterial compliance is a passive consequence of the
increase in blood pressure or is related to changes in the arterial wall
The author of this article should, of course, remember that any form of
strenuous physical labour involves the same sort of muscle and cardiac
operation as weight training. Now, some of you may recall my quoting that
huge study by the renowned cardiovascular researcher, Dr Paffenbarger, with
longshoremen (dock labourers) - this study showed that this group exhibited a
lower risk if cardiac disease than the average population, despite all their
lifting, hauling, throwing and carrying.
If any of you has spent a day working like that (either at the docks or on a
farm), then you know pretty well that even the heaviest weight training does
not make these tasks very easy. There is no doubt that longshoreman work is
tough weight training, so what does the author of that rather alarm-mongering
tale have to say about this study (with thousands of subjects over many
However, from what I have read, it would corroborate that it is important to
follow some balance of aerobic and anaerobic exercise in your life. This does
not mean that one needs to go overboard on the "cardiovascular doctrine" and
become an hour-a-day jogger. It just means that it is probably a sound idea
to include something like 15 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (even in
the form of non-maximal intervals or fartlek) every other day in your program
There seems little doubt that higher arterial compliance is better in the
long term for your cardiac health, so why not err on the side of doing a
little aerobic activity that does not decrease your strength? I rely heavily
on short modules of swimming and walking for this purpose without lowering
my Olympic weightlifting strength.
Here are summaries of some studies on the issue of arterial stiffness (which
is the opposite of 'compliance' or elasticity):
1. Moderate cardiovascular exercise leads to more compliant circulation and
lower blood pressure
2. Moderate cardiovascular exercise which produces a more compliant arterial
circulation and lower blood pressure facilitates better athletic performance.
3. Arterial compliance improves with dietary fish oils in patients with high
4. Even a single bout of cycling exercise increases whole body arterial
compliance by mechanisms that may relate to vasodilation. This suggests that
one could benefit by the periodic intermittent use of short sessions of
aerobic exercise and that hour long cardio sessions are unnecessary.
5. Dr Kenneth Cooper, father of modern aerobics, now militates against too
much aerobic exercise, because it increase the chances of free radical damage
to many systems in the body.
6. Moderate cardio training increases systemic arterial compliance (SAC)
and the induced change in SAC is linearly related to change in VO2 max.
7. Higher levels of cardiovascular physical conditioning, assessed by
VO2max, is associated with reduced arterial stiffness, both within sedentary
populations and in endurance trained older men. These findings suggest that
interventions to improve aerobic capacity may diminish age-related stiffening
of the arteries.
8. Mean blood pressure is an important factor in altering carotid artery
stiffness: the higher the mean blood pressure, the greater the stiffness of
this artery. This means that high blood pressure seems to be an important
factor in altering the stiffness of one's arteries. So, if you are a lifter
with elevated resting blood pressure, then you will be increasing your risks
of stiffening your arteries. If you are any lifter, then one should try to
minimise your breath-holding periods, during which the greatest blood
pressures are produced.
Possibly this overview of the current research situation will assist you in
understanding the fuller context of the original alarmist article.
Dr Mel C Siff
[log in to unmask]