Exercise training and blood lipids in hyperlipidemic and normolipidemic adults: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Jul;53(7):514-22. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1600784.


Objective: To determine the effectiveness of exercise training (aerobic and resistance) in modifying blood lipids, and to determine the most effective training programme with regard to duration, intensity and frequency for optimizing the blood lipid profile.

Design: Trials were identified by a systematic search of Medline, Embase, Science Citation Index (SCI), published reviews and the references of relevant trials. The inclusion criteria were limited to randomized, controlled trials of aerobic and resistance exercise training which were conducted over a minimum of four weeks and involved measurement of one or more of the following: total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein (HIDL-C), low density lipoprotein (LDL-C) and triglycerides (TG).

Subjects: A total of 31 trials ( 1833 hyperlipidemic and normolipidemic participants) were included.

Results: Aerobic exercise training resulted in small but statistically significant decreases of 0.10 mmol/L (95% CI: 0.02, 0.18). 0.10 (95% CI: 0.02, 0.19), 0.08 mmol/L (95% CI: 0.02, 0.14), for TC, LDL-C, and TG, respectively, with an increase in HDL-C of 0.05 mmol/L (95% CI: 0.02, 0.08). Comparisons between the intensities of the aerobic exercise programmes produced inconsistent results; but more frequent exercise did not appear to result in greater improvements to the lipid profile than exercise three times per week. The evidence for the effect of resistance exercise training was inconclusive.

Conclusions: Caution is required when drawing firm conclusions from this study given the significant heterogeneity with comparisons. However, the results appear to indicate that aerobic exercise training produced small but favourable modifications to blood lipids in previously sedentary adults.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / blood
  • Hyperlipidemias / therapy*
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Lipids