Walking, Lipids, and Lipoproteins: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Prev Med. 2004 May;38(5):651-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2003.12.012.


Background: The purpose of this study was to use the meta-analytic approach to examine the effects of walking on lipids and lipoproteins in adults.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials that examined the effects of walking on total cholesterol (TC), high- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C and LDL-C), the ratio of TC/HDL, and triglycerides (TG) in adults ages 18 years and older were retrieved via computerized literature searches, cross-referencing, hand-searching, and expert review of our reference list.

Results: Twenty-five studies that included 1,176 subjects (692 walkers, 484 controls) and up to 33 outcomes were available for pooling. Using random-effects modeling, statistically significant, walking-induced decreases of 5% and 6% were observed for LDL-C and TC/HDL-C (LDL-C, mean +/- SE, -5.5 +/- 2.2 mg/dL, 95% CI, -9.9 to -1.2 mg/dL; TC/HDL-C, mean +/- SE, -0.3 +/- 0.1, 95% CI, -0.6 to -0.1). No statistically significant changes were observed for TC, HDL, or TG (P > 0.05), although changes were in the direction of benefit. No statistically significant changes occurred in body composition (P > 0.05).

Conclusions: Walking reduces LDL-C and TC/HDL-C in adults independent of changes in body composition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cholesterol / classification
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / blood*
  • Lipoproteins / classification
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Triglycerides / blood*
  • Walking*


  • Lipoproteins
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol