Lifting weights does not just trim your abs, arms, legs, and back but also does wonders for your heart. A recent study revealed that it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases that could ultimately lead to death.

A study published in the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise included evidence to support this finding. People who include weight training in their exercise routine are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. It benefits them regardless if they also do cardio or aerobic exercises.

The study drew from health records of more than 12,500 men and women who have been undergoing annual checkups at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas between 1987 and 2006. Data collected include their medical history and exercise habits.

The subjects were then categorized according to their exercise routine. One was the resistant training. There were those who lift weights three or more times in a week and those who never do resistance exercise. The second category was for those who do aerobic exercise and whether they do the suggested 150-minute of brisk workouts per week. Data collected were then validated against incidents of stroke, death, and heart attack during the 11 years after the subjects' last clinic visit.

The results showed a 50 percent lower chance of developing heart-related diseases for those who lifted weights occasionally compared with those who never did. Those who included resistance training in their exercise routine twice a week for over an hour had the greatest decline.

Duck-chul Lee, a co-author of the study and associate professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, said that there are substantial heart benefits in lifting weights even with a very small amount.

"People may think they need to spend a lot of time lifting weights, but just two sets of bench presses that take less than 5 minutes could be effective."

However, the big question is whether people would consider incorporating weight lifting in their exercise routine. Lee said that resistance training does not need to have a gym membership since anyone can do this in the comforts of their home.

"Lifting any weight that increases resistance on your muscles is the key. My muscle doesn't know the difference if I'm digging in the yard, carrying heavy shopping bags or lifting a dumbbell."

Moreover, those who lift weights are less likely to become obese. Lee added that the muscles developed from resistance exercise require the body to burn more energy. Thus it uses up the fat stored in the body for fuel.