Weight Training the Heart: Sometimes it IS About Race

University of Illinois graduate student Marc Cook and his colleagues found that young African-American men experienced more cardiovascular benefits from weight training than Caucasian men of the same age. Photo by L. Brain Stauffer.

University of Illinois graduate student Marc Cook and his colleagues found that young African-American men experienced more cardiovascular benefits from weight training than Caucasian men of the same age. Photo by L. Brain Stauffer.

Lifting weights has some major health advantages to those willing to put forth the effort. But as it is with all things health-related, not everything is equal. Naturally some forms of lifting are more advantageous than others, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. I’m not talking about forms of exercise, though. This time I’m talking about how the exact same exercise regimen can have different benefits for different people.

While I hate to pull out the race card, sometimes it’s just inevitable. Studies have shown that some ethnicities have slightly different health issues and responses to drugs than others. And while it’s not secret that African Americans have greater trouble with heart issues, it appears that they can also reap additional benefits from working out.

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Illinois found that weight training significantly improved blood markers of cardiovascular health in young African American men. Specifically, inflammation, immune response or the remodeling of arteries that normally occur after tissue damage, infection, and other types of stress were all shown to improve after six weeks of weight training. Interestingly, the 18 Caucasians who went through the exact same trial did not show the same improvements as the 14 African Americans.

“If you don’t like cardiovascular exercise, if you don’t like running on a treadmill, if you can’t play basketball or you’re not good at it, you can lift weights and improve your health, especially when it comes to high blood pressure, which happens to run in our family,” said Marc Cook, a doctoral student who conducted the analysis. “If you just want to lift weights and you do it on a regular basis, you could improve your function.”

The paper, “Effect of Resistance Training on Biomarkers of Vascular Function and Oxidative Stress in Young African American and Caucasian Men,” was published in the Journal of Hypertension by Bo Fernhall, dean of the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Marc Cook, and Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Jeffrey Woods.

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About bigkingken

A science writer dedicated to proving that the Big Ten - or the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, if you will - is more than athletics.
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