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Physical activity for preventing and treating obesity-related dyslipoproteinemias


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 1999 - Volume 31 - Issue 11 - p S609
Roundtable Consensus Statement

STEFANICK, M. L. Physical activity for preventing and treating obesity-related dyslipoproteinemias. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 11, Suppl., pp. S609–S618, 1999.

Purpose: The clinical trial data were reviewed on effects of physical activity on obesity-related dyslipoproteinemias (specifically low HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C), elevated triglycerides (TG), and high total and LDL-cholesterol (TC and LDL-C)) in adult men and women.

Methods: Effort was made to identify all randomized clinical trials (RCT), with exercise intervention programs of at least 4 months’ duration, which had lipoprotein outcomes. Those that had both an exercise only intervention and control groups or both a diet plus exercise and identical diet only intervention groups were reviewed. Tables were developed of baseline characteristics and weight and lipoprotein changes for aerobic exercise trials by body mass index: 1) < 25.0 kg·m−2, 2) 25.0–29.9 kg·m−2, and 3) ≥ 30.0 kg·m−2 and for studies involving resistance exercise or increased energy expenditure from daily activities versus structured exercise programs.

Results: Very few RCT were found that specifically addressed the role of physical activity in preventing or treating obesity-related adverse lipoprotein levels. There was essentially no evidence found in lean or overweight men or women to support a specific role for exercise in improving undesirable lipoprotein levels; however, trial data strongly suggest that the addition of exercise to a hypocaloric, reduced-fat diet improves HDL-C and TG in men and women with generally desirable initial levels and reduces LDL-C in men and women with initially elevated LDL-C levels. The evidence is also reasonably strong that weight loss, including that achieved solely by exercise, improves HDL-C and TG in obese men, without reducing LDL-C, whereas it remains weak for women. There are also virtually no trial data to support a role for resistance exercise or an increase in daily living activities for improving obesity-related lipoproteins.

Conclusions: Current evidence from RCT is too limited to determine whether physical activity can raise low HDL-C or lower high TG or LDL-C levels in overweight and obese individuals.

Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94304–1583

Address for correspondence: Marcia L. Stefanick, Ph.D., Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, 730 Welch Rd., Suite B, Palo Alto, CA. 94304-1583; E-mail:

Roundtable held February 4–7, 1999, Indianapolis, IN.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.