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Sixteen Weeks of Exercise Reduces C-Reactive Protein Levels in Young Women


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: June 2011 - Volume 43 - Issue 6 - p 1002-1009
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182059eda
Basic Sciences

Purpose: Regular exercise has been shown to protect against breast cancer risk, and one possible mechanism is through a reduction in inflammation. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of 16 wk of aerobic exercise training on adipokines and inflammatory markers in healthy young women.

Methods: Participants were 319 sedentary women aged 18-30 yr, with body mass index of 18-40 kg·m−2, randomized to an exercise intervention or no exercise for approximately 16 wk. Adiponectin, leptin, C-reactive protein (CRP), and amyloid A (AA) were measured at baseline and after 16 wk. Adiponectin was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and AA, CRP, and leptin were measured by multiplex bead array assays.

Results: Exercise significantly decreased CRP levels in the exercise group compared with the control group (−1.41 mg·L−1 in exercisers vs −0.005 mg·L−1 in controls, P = 0.040), and this effect was largely driven by changes in CRP that occurred in the obese exercisers. There was no effect of exercise on levels of SAA, adiponectin, or leptin. There was also no effect of exercise on stress and depression scores. Neither change in percent body fat nor change in fitness influenced the effects of exercise on these inflammatory markers.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that a 16-wk aerobic exercise program significantly decreased levels of CRP in young women, especially in those who were obese. There was no evidence that this effect was mediated by changes in perceived stress, percent body fat, or fitness. These findings suggest that adopting an exercise routine early in life may decrease future risk of breast cancer and other chronic diseases in obese women.

1Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN; 2School of Public Health, Department of Biostatistics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; and 3Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Address for correspondence: Andrea Y. Arikawa, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, 1334 Eckles Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108; E-mail:

Submitted for publication September 2010.

Accepted for publication November 2010.

©2011The American College of Sports Medicine