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Exercise and heart health

Posted By Peter on November 24, 1998 at 12:33:57:

I am 35 years old and generally in good health, with the exception of being
about 20 lbs overweight and having a high cholesterol reading (around 250).
I would like to begin a comprehensive fitness program which includes proper
diet, aerobic exercise, and moderate weightlifting.  I have two questions:
    1.)  I know that aerobic exercise is excellent for the heart, but is it
useful only as a preventive measure against future heart disease, or can it
also actually reverse some of the damage already done to arteries caused
by years of high-fat eating?
    2.)  From most of the research I can find, it seems that many health
authorities recommend weight training as an integral part of overall
fitness (which would also include aerobic exercise, stretching, and proper
diet).  However, a cardiologist I saw several years ago said he thinks that
weightlifting is not only unnecessary, but can also be dangerous to the
health of your heart, by increasing blood pressure and by potentially
enlarging the heart.  What exactly does he mean by this?  I have been
having a hard time finding any corroborating evidence to his opinion.  I
can understand that lifting excessive amounts of weight (such as done by
professional bodybuilders) could cause a significant increase in blood
pressure, and also perhaps in the size of the heart.  But all I'm
interested in doing is toning up and adding a little bit of muscle to
help in my effort to burn fat.  What considerations should I take into
account as I plan a weightlifting routine?
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