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Sep 14, 2021
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What is healthier for the heart: lose weight or strengthen muscles?

It is well known that the more fat a person has, the higher their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Scientists believe that fat has a harmful effect on the heart indirectly: through an increase in blood pressure and metabolic disorders. However, it is currently not possible to achieve massive and stable weight loss among the inhabitants of the planet. Therefore, researchers are trying to find other targets that can be targeted to improve metabolism.

Muscle tissue is one such potential target. It actively participates in metabolism, its activity helps to reduce inflammation and blood glucose levels. Scientists suggest that the risk of heart disease decreases with increasing muscle mass.

In a new study, researchers from the University of Bristol tested whether it is better for lower body fat or increased muscle mass for cardiovascular risk factors.

The researchers looked at data from more than 3,200 young people born since the 1990s. Participants were assessed four times (10, 13, 18, and 25 years old) for body fat and lean body mass (which predominantly reflects muscle health). At the age of 25, blood was taken from them to determine 200 biomarkers of metabolic status (glucose, cholesterol, indicators of inflammation, and many others). Arm muscle strength testing was performed twice during the observation period.

The study, as expected, showed that fat gain was associated with impaired metabolic rates associated with heart health. This harm far outweighed the potential benefits of muscle gain.

Scientists found that the greatest gains in muscle mass were seen during adolescence. They think this is the best time to take care of the muscles. The study also found that muscle strength was more associated with improvements in heart health biomarkers than muscle mass. Scientists write that frequent muscle use is an important benefit factor.

“Losing excess fat is tricky, but that seems to be the one that can provide the most benefits. At the same time, we highlight the benefits of exercise – it has many other beneficial effects, ”said Joshua Bell, lead author of the study. Bell added that you need to understand how useful muscle recruitment is in preventing heart disease so that you don’t have false expectations.


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