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PHYSIO  June 1999

PHYSIO June 1999

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Subject:

WEIGHTS & ARTERIES

From:

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Date:

Wed, 30 Jun 1999 18:44:34 EDT

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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 
structure.

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 
years)?

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 
cardiovascular risk. 

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
Denver, USA
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