GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– Regular cardio workouts can strengthen your heart.

But, according to new research presented this year at an annual gathering of the Heart Failure Association in Europe, strength training can also benefit your heart.

A physical therapist explained when it comes to your cardiovascular health, muscle strength is more important than once realized.

“So, I think when we think of cardiovascular health, we often think about doing cardio, you know, getting on the treadmill, walking, jogging, but a lot of research is coming out, that shows that strength training actually plays a huge role in cardiovascular health,” Physical Therapist Scott Carley said.

Carley went on t say those with strength training as part of their workout routine are bouncing back quicker after a heart attack or stroke.

“We are seeing a lot of just better outcomes. People are getting healthier or back to their previous status after a cardiovascular issue quicker than if they didn’t do strength training,” said Carley.

Carley said strength training can include lifting weights, but also…”doing squats. Doing lunges. Anything to work on muscular strengthening,” said Carley.

He said don’t skip leg day.

“The recent research that just came out. It showed that leg strength was associated with better cardiovascular health or better outcomes after a cardiovascular accident,” Carley said.

A gym is a great idea if you are looking to work with a trainer, but you can also improve muscle strength at home.

He said “And you don’t even need equipment at home. You can do squats, lunges, grab some resistance bands, or free weights.”

But, if you are brand new to this type of exercise, check in with your doctor first.

“The number one thing is to make sure that your provider healthcare provider has cleared you and that you’re safe to enter any type of exercise,” said Carley.

Once you’re cleared, you may also want to meet with a physical therapist to go over the best strength training exercises for you.

Carley said, if you can, strength train three to four times a week, alternating between muscles.. and giving yourself rest days in between.

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