Purpose: Despite the potential importance of favorable changes in the lipid profile produced by aerobic exercise, training-induced lipid profile changes in atherosclerosis-prone type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM) have not heretofore been adequately addressed.
Methods: We assessed the effect of a 12- to 16-wk aerobic exercise program on cardiorespiratory fitness and the lipid profile in young men with type 1 DM. Generally active men aged 20-40 yr with type 1 DM (N = 56) were randomized into training (N = 28) and control (untrained, N = 28) groups after baseline measurements. Training consisted of 30-60 min moderate-intensity running 3-5 times a week for 12-16 wk.
Results: For the 42 men finishing the study, peak oxygen consumption (VO2 peak) increased significantly only in the trained group. Total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and apolipoprotein (apo) B decreased and the high-density lipoprotein (HDL)/apo A-I ratio increased in the trained group. HDL and apo A-I increased in both groups. The exercise program brought about improvements in the HDL/LDL and apo A-I/apo B ratios and apo B and triglyceride levels when comparing the relative (%) changes in the trained versus control group. In the trained group, men with HDL/LDL ratios below the group median at baseline showed even more favorable changes in their lipid profile than those with higher initial HDL/LDL ratios. Body mass index, percent body fat and hemoglobin A1c did not change during the training period in either group.
Conclusions: Endurance training improved the lipid profile in already physically active type 1 diabetic men, independently of effects on body composition or glycemic control. The most favorable changes were in patients with low baseline HDL/LDL ratios, likely the group with the greatest benefit to be gained by such changes.