By Matt Evans
Some people love running. It gets you out onto the pavement, or into nature. It gives you a sense of achievement as you continue to run longer distances, or beat your own 5K time. However, others hate running: you might find the steady-state cardio very tedious, or the high-impact nature of the exercise difficult on your joints.
Fortunately, a new study has found a great alternative: weight training exercises can help you keep your heart healthy just as well as a jog.
The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, looked at three groups of people: one participating in eight weeks of regular treadmill sessions, one who performed eight weeks of circuit-style resistance exercises instead, and one group who did no training at all.
The study looked at various markers for health including body composition, cardiovascular fitness and cholesterol levels. It was found that, obviously, the groups who exercised outperformed the group that didn't after the challenge was up.
However, the other two groups had a very surprising result, in that no significant difference was found in cardiovascular risk factor between the two groups that exercised. When it comes to cardio fitness, the resistance training group did just as well as the runners. Hate those early morning park runs? This is your perfect excuse to switch it up – with no need to cancel your Saturday morning lie-in.
Understandably, this is great news for those who don't want to exercise because they dislike running, or worry about the impact pavement-pounding has on their joints. Using bodyweight exercises and key resistance training equipment, you can still improve your heart health with consistent training.
Resistance exercises like push ups, crunches and squats work multiple muscle groups and can be done with no equipment. However, if you want to take your resistance training to the next level, you can pick up one of our best resistance band sets, a supremely cheap and versatile piece of fitness equipment.
Alternatively, you can try some of our best adjustable dumbbells, which can be modulated to your fitness level. With these, you can learn how to deadlift with dumbbells, bench press and so many other key resistance training exercises, improving your heart as well as your muscles.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website.
Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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