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Effects of Muscular Strength on Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Prognosis

Artero, Enrique G. PhD; Lee, Duck-chul PhD; Lavie, Carl J. MD; España-Romero, Vanesa PhD; Sui, Xuemei MD, MPH; Church, Timothy S. MD, MPH, PhD; Blair, Steven N. PED

Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention: November/December 2012 - Volume 32 - Issue 6 - p 351–358
doi: 10.1097/HCR.0b013e3182642688
Scientific Review

Physical fitness is one of the strongest predictors of individual future health status. Together with cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), muscular strength has been increasingly recognized in the pathogenesis and prevention of chronic disease. We review the most recent literature on the effect of muscular strength in the development of cardiovascular disease, with special interest in elucidating its specific benefits beyond those from CRF and body composition. Muscular strength has shown an independent protective effect on all-cause and cancer mortality in healthy middle-aged men, as well as in men with hypertension and patients with heart failure. It has also been inversely associated with age-related weight and adiposity gains, risk of hypertension, and prevalence and incidence of the metabolic syndrome. In children and adolescents, higher levels of muscular fitness have been inversely associated with insulin resistance, clustered cardiometabolic risk, and inflammatory proteins. Generally, the influence of muscular fitness was weakened but remained protective after considering CRF. Also, interestingly, higher levels of muscular fitness seems to some extent counteract the adverse cardiovascular profile of overweight and obese individuals. As many of the investigations have been conducted with non-Hispanic white men, it is important to examine how race/ethnicity and gender may affect these relationships. To conclude, most important effects of resistance training are also summarized, to better understand how higher levels of muscular fitness may result in a better cardiovascular prognosis and survival.

Muscular strength has been increasingly recognized in the pathogenesis and prevention of chronic disease. This review summarizes the specific benefits of muscle strength on cardiovascular disease development, prognosis and survival. Findings from resistance training interventions are also summarized to suggest plausible physiologic mechanisms for this association.

Departments of Exercise Science (Drs Artero, Lee, España-Romero, Sui, and Blair) and Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Dr Blair), Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina. Columbia; Area of Physical Education and Sport, School of Education, University of Almería. Almería, Spain (Dr Artero); Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, Ochsner Clinical School - The University of Queensland School of Medicine. New Orleans, Louisiana (Dr Lavie); and Preventive Medicine Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Drs Lavie and Church).

Correspondence: Enrique G. Artero, PhD, Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly St, Columbia, SC 29208 (

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.