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Cholesterol: The Exercise Effect

September 11, 2009
The benefits of exercise can’t be stated too strongly, but according to a new study published in the Journal of Lipid Research, the full extent of these benefits are not quite the same for everyone. Scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examined nine years of follow-up data on 8,764 African Americanand white men and women,ages 45 to 64 years at the start of their participation in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, to look for long-term effects of physicalactivity on plasma lipids and lipoproteins—HDL (the “good” cholesterol), LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), total cholesteroland triglyceride levels. People who increased their level of activity—by either an hour of mild exercise per week or a half-hour of moderate exercise—showed increases in HDL across the board and decreasesin triglycerides among white participants. LDL levels improved but only in women, while African American women also saw improvement in total cholesterol. Both hormones and genetics could be behind the different effects of exercise on triglycerides and LDL, say the scientists, but stress that their work further confirms the value of exercise for increasing the all-important HDL cholesterol in everyone.