The effects of statins on exercise and physical activity

J Clin Lipidol. 2017 Sep-Oct;11(5):1134-1144. doi: 10.1016/j.jacl.2017.07.003. Epub 2017 Jul 21.


Objective: We sought to review studies examining the effect of statins on symptoms of exercise tolerance, markers of muscle injury and activity levels in physical active individuals.

Background: Statin therapy reduces atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. Regular physical activity is also associated with reduced CVD events, but statin therapy can produce muscle complaints, which may be more frequent in physically active individuals. We reviewed the literature to determine the effects of statins on symptoms, exercise performance and activity levels in physically active individuals.

Methods: We performed a PubMed search to identify English language articles reporting on statins and their effect on athletic/exercise performance, and symptoms in active individuals.

Results: We identified 65 articles, 32 of which provided sufficient information to be included in this review. Seventeen of the 32 studies examined the incidence of myalgia while exercising on statins, and showed that myalgia was increased in 8 of the 17 (47%) of these studies. Of the 17 studies examining the effects of statin therapy on muscle injury, 6 (35%) studies reported that statins augment the increase in creatine kinase (CK) produced by exercise. There were 10 studies that examined statin effects on aerobic exercise performance, only 3 of which (33%) concluded that statins decreased performance. Two (25%) of the 8 studies examined the effects of statins on muscular strength and suggested that statins decreased muscular strength, whereas 2 (25%) reported increased strength. Statins did not consistently affect physical activity levels since statins were associated with an increase in activity in 3 of the 5 studies examining habitual exercise. None of the studies showed a relationship between statins use and exercise and an increase in myalgia or a decrease in exercise performance. There was also no correlation between intensity of statin therapy and an effect on these variables.

Conclusion: Statins may increase the incidence of exercise-related muscle complaints and in some studies augment the exercise-induced rise in muscle enzymes, but statins do not consistently reduce muscle strength, endurance, overall exercise performance or physical activity.

Keywords: Athlete; Exercise; Myopathy; Statins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis / drug effects
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Muscles / drug effects
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Muscles / physiology


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors