Inflammatory markers and exercise: differences related to exercise type

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Apr;35(4):575-81. doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000058440.28108.CC.


Purpose: To examine the relationship between elevated inflammatory markers (CRP, fibrinogen, and white blood cell levels) and various forms of exercise for the adult U.S. population while controlling for factors that might influence the relationship.

Methods: An analysis of the adults age 17 and over who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III was conducted. The main goal of the analysis was to determine whether exercise type was associated with systemic markers of inflammation. Bivariate statistics using chi-square to evaluate different types of exercise according to the presence of elevated and nonelevated inflammatory markers was initially performed. In addition, multivariate models were constructed using each type of exercise activity as the predictor variable and each inflammatory marker as the dependent variable.

Results: A total of 4072 people were included in the analysis. In bivariate analyses, compared with nonexercisers in a specific exercise type, a significant lower likelihood of elevated inflammatory markers was found among regular participants in jogging, swimming, cycling, aerobic dancing, calisthenics, and weight lifting but not for gardening. After controlling for possible confounding factors including age, race, sex, body mass index, smoking, and health status in logistic regression analysis, only regular participants in jogging and aerobic dancing remained significantly less likely to have elevated cardiovascular markers.

Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that some forms of physical activity are associated with a lower likelihood of elevation of inflammatory markers, although we cannot exclude the possibility that differences may be due to exercise intensity or duration. Future research should be directed toward further exploration of the effects of different types of exercise activity on inflammatory markers and the role of exercise in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Inflammation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Sports / physiology*


  • Biomarkers