The effects of exercise on the lipid profile: A meta-analysis | Atherosclerosis

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  • Regular aerobic exercise led to positive changes in the lipoprotein subclass profile across ten different exercise groups from six exercise training studies that varied in the program type and participating populations.


  • A meta-analysis of 1555 adults from six studies, which included10 distinct exercise programs: APOE (N = 106), DREW (N = 385), GERS (N = 79), HERITAGE (N = 715), STRRIDE I (N = 168) and II (N = 102).
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to quantify average particle size, total and subclass concentrations of very low-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, and high-density lipoprotein particles (VLDL-P, LDL-P, and HDL-P, respectively) before and after exercise.

Key Results
  • Regular exercise induced significant decreases in the concentration of large VLDL-P, small LDL-P, and medium HDL-P and mean VLDL-P size.
  • Regular exercise caused significant increases in the concentration of large LDL-P and large HDL-P and mean LDL-P size.
  • The changed remained significant in meta-analysis after adjusting for confounders including age, sex, race, baseline body mass index, and baseline trait value.

  • Four of the six studies did not include control groups.
  • The amount, duration, and intensity of exercise varied across the six studies.

Why This Matters
  • Regular exercise led to beneficial changes in lipd profiles, but further research is needed to examine how these changes in lipoprotein subclasses may be associated with cardiovascular disease risk.