The goal of this study was to investigate the association between resistance exercise and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, independent of body composition, physical activity and aerobic capacity, in healthy women. A cross–sectional analysis comprised 7321 women with no history of heart disease, hypertension or diabetes was conducted. Participation in resistance exercise was self–reported and body weight and height was measured. A single CVD risk score was established via factor analysis including percent body fat, mean arterial pressure, fasting glucose, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Physical activity level was determined based on questionnaire data and aerobic capacity was assessed via a maximal treadmill exercise test. Women reporting resistance exercise had lower total CVD risk at any age. Specifically, resistance exercise was related to lower body fat, fasting glucose and total cholesterol. Although the association between resistance exercise and CVD risk remained only in normal weight women after adjusting for physical activity and aerobic capacity.
This study’s results highlight the importance of resistance exercise as an element of a healthy and active lifestyle in women across all ages. These results indicate that resistance exercise may be of particular benefit to independently improve CVD risk profiles in women with normal weight. In overweight/obese women, total physical activity and aerobic capacity may have a stronger association with CVD risk.