While “meatheads” and “swoldiers” will always be among us, long gone are the days when a love for the iron carried a unanimous stigma. With the recent explosion of CrossFit across the country, roping in Average Jane’s and Joe’s of all shapes and sizes, weightlifters are no longer frowned upon by the general public. This is a good trend, as the rewards of weight training are too many to count.

Still, the protein-heavy and carb-loaded diets of bodybuilders can mislead some to fear heart-trouble down the line, if lifting becomes their way of life. Keeping careful watch over heart health and eating habits is always important, but there’s no sense in second guessing the benefits of weightlifting. Study after study back up this reality.

One of the latest comes from Iowa State University, which released a study earlier this month that underscores the value of lifting and posits that a little bit goes a long way. Below is an excerpt from an article on the University’s website summarizing the report’s findings.

Lifting weights for less than an hour a week may reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 percent, according to a new Iowa State University study. Spending more than an hour in the weight room did not yield any additional benefit, the researchers found.

“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,” said DC (Duck-chul) Lee, associate professor of kinesiology.

The results – some of the first to look at resistance exercise and cardiovascular disease – show benefits of strength training are independent of running, walking or other aerobic activity. In other words, you do not have to meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic physical activity to lower your risk; weight training alone is enough. The study is published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

Lee and his colleagues analyzed data of nearly 13,000 adults in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. They measured three health outcomes: cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke that did not result in death, all cardiovascular events including death and any type of death. Lee says resistance exercise reduced the risk for all three.

As Lee went on to point out in the article, while the brain and conscience may be aware of the difference between lifting a dumbbell versus a more traditional strain, like manual labor, it makes no difference to the muscles themselves. Lifting is a great way to stay active, whether it’s yardwork or kettlebells.

To read the full summary from ISU’s website, click here.