Resistance training and Black women

Resistance training can decrease cardiovascular disease risk in Black women

Watch the video recap explaining how resistance training can benefit Black women.

February is Black History Month and American Heart Month. So, what better way to celebrate both by discussing ways we as Black women can improve our heart health. Statistically speaking, 78% of Black women are overweight or obese, which significantly increases our risk for chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease (CVD) and metabolic syndrome (MetS). Black women are more likely to have elevated levels of most of the CVD risk factors related to MetS including waist circumference, hypertension, fasting blood sugar, and inflammation. It is estimated that over 1/3 (39%) of Black women in the US have MetS. Additionally, research has shown that Black women get don’t get much daily physical activity and are consistently less active than women of other races and ethnicities. Sorry I’m not painting a pretty picture here, but there is something we can do about it.

A recent study evaluated the effects of walking versus walking combined with resistance training on the CVD risk factors associated with MetS in inactive, overweight and obese middle-aged Black women. The 12-week intervention showed that walking combined with 2 days per week of resistance training significantly decreased waist circumference, body fat, and blood sugar levels when compared to just walking. So, what kind of resistance training did they do? The study participants performed 3 sets of 8–12 repetitions of 10 common resistance exercises for the upper and lower body. They got 1 minute rest between sets and had an intensity goal of 60%–70% of their one-rep maximum (1-RM). These 10 exercises were chest press, seated row, overhead press, biceps curl, triceps extension, leg press, leg extension, leg curl, abdominal crunch, and low back extensions.

But let’s not get too bogged down in the details and focus on the big picture. Overall, the good news is that these results are promising! They are promising because embracing an active lifestyle that includes resistance training not only can prevent the need for more prescription medications but can also help improve the quality of life for Black women who are at risk for CVD and other related chronic disorders. One thing to keep in mind is that it is best to check with your healthcare provider first before you ease into a new exercise program.


Hornbuckle, L. M., Liu, P. Y., Ilich, J. Z., Kim, J. S., Arjmandi, B. H., & Panton, L. B. (2012). Effects of resistance training and walking on cardiovascular disease risk in African-American women. Medicine and science in sports and exercise44(3), 525–533.