Exercise & Fitness

Two workout strategies that reduce cardiovascular disease risk

News briefs

By , Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

photo of a man using hand weights for exercise while outdoors, trees are visible behind him but out of focus

Doing regular aerobic exercise — the kind that works your heart and lungs — is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Now, findings published online Jan. 17, 2024, by the European Heart Journal suggest that doing a combination of aerobics and strength training might reduce cardiovascular risk factors just as effectively. The study involved about 400 people (ages 35 to 70) classified as overweight or obese who also had high blood pressure. They were randomly assigned to one of four exercise programs: a 60-minute aerobic workout three times a week, a 60-minute strength training workout three times a week, a 60-minute combination of aerobics and strength training (30 minutes of each) three times a week, or no exercise at all. After one year, people in both the aerobics-only group and the combination exercise group (but not the strength-training-only group) had a significant reduction in a combined measure of cardiovascular risk factors, compared with people who didn't exercise. These risk factors included blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol, blood sugar, and body fat. People doing the combined workouts also improved their muscle strength. What this means: it might be equally healthful to replace half of your aerobic workout with strength training, without adding additional exercise time.

Image: © kali9/Getty Images

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

About the Author

photo of Heidi Godman

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
View all posts by Heidi Godman

About the Reviewer

photo of Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff is the Steven P. Simcox/Patrick A. Clifford/James H. Higby Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and editor in chief of the Harvard … See Full Bio
View all posts by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

You might also be interested in…

Workout Workbook: 9 complete workouts to help you get fit and healthy

The numbers are shocking. Just two out of 10 American adults meet recommended levels of physical activity. Nearly three out of 10 Americans ages 6 and older admit they aren’t active at all, despite reams of research proving that exercise is a powerful preventive, and sometimes an antidote, for disability and illness. This Special Health Report, Workout Workbook: 10 complete workouts to help you get fit and healthy, features nine excellent workouts that will challenge your body and spirit in a variety of ways while warding off boredom.

Read More

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Sign Up
Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.