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Study shows resistance training benefits cardiovascular health

BOONE—Exercise – it will cure what ails you, or at least some of the most common ailments.

Research conducted in the College of Health Sciences’ Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science at Appalachian State University has shown that resistance training has some similar effects as aerobic exercise in lowering a person’s blood pressure.

Dr. Scott Collier was the lead investigator of the study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. The study is part of the growing body of research being conducted at Appalachian on the effects of exercise, supplements and health.

Collier looked at changes that occurred to arteries and blood flow following 45 minutes of moderate intensity resistance exercise using machines like those typically found in fitness centers.

He found that the resistance training resulted in as much as a 20 percent decrease in a person’s blood pressure, which is as good as or better than the benefit of taking anti-hypertensive medication. “And exercise has no adverse side effects,” Collier said.

“Resistance exercise increases blood flow which reduces blood pressure,” he said. The findings are significant, he explained, because it shows that aerobic exercise isn’t the only way a person can improve their cardiovascular health.

“Aerobic exercise is the American Heart Association’s preferred exercise for decreasing cardiovascular risk,” Collier said. “However, there are a lot of people with orthopedic or obesity limitations who can’t walk or run long distances. For them, that type of exercise would be contraindicated.” he said.

He found that the beneficial effects of resistance training continued about 30 minutes after the exercise had ended and as long as 24 hours in individuals who trained for 30-45 minutes three times a week.

Collier said women who use resistance training to lower their blood pressure gain additional benefits. “Resistance training also helps protect against or treat osteoporosis,” he said. “Any exercise is good. But if you can’t do aerobic exercise, resistance exercise can help decrease blood pressure and increase metabolism as well as provide social and psychological benefits”.

Research conducted by Dr. David Nieman at Appalachian has documented the health benefits of exercise in reducing colds or limiting the severity of a cold. Collier and Nieman are starting a study at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis regarding the effects of certain spices on the vasculature, blood flow and inflammation.

Dr. N. Travis Triplett in the Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science researches how strength training can improve the quality of life and improve bone density and muscle function in individuals age 60 and older.

Collier and Dr. David Morris from the Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science are conducting experiments on pulmonary hypertension which may help individuals that have this condition live better lives.  Collier and Dr. David Dickinson (Department of Economics) are studying the effects of the timing of exercise on sleep blood pressure, sleep architecture and decision making.

Also, Collier and Dr. Marty Root (Department of Nutrition and Health Care Management) are investigating the effects of an Omega 3 supplement and vitamin D plus exercise on blood pressure and the vasculature.  Collier and Dr. Karen Caldwell (Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling in Appalachian’s Reich College of Education) are investigating the effects of Tai chi, Pilates and aerobics on autonomic function and depression/anxiety.

Collier, Dr. Ross Gosky (Department of Mathematical Sciences) and Dr. Sue Edwards (Department of Biology) are investigating the effects of an antioxidant versus common hypertensive medication on blood pressure and vessel changes.