Objective: To examine the effect of a moderate exercise regimen on total serum cholesterol, triglyceride, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), body composition and cardiovascular fitness (VO2 max) in mildly hyperlipidemic women, postmenopause.
Design: Randomized assignment to walking (n = 24) or control (n = 16) groups.
Setting: Community based intervention.
Participants: Over 300 volunteers were screened to obtain the sample of 40 eligible women. Participants were mildly hyperlipidemic, postmenopause (mean age 62.0 +/- 5.7 years), sedentary, nonsmokers and not on hormone replacement therapy. Results are reported for the 25 subjects (15 walkers, 10 controls) who completed the study.
Intervention: Exercisers walked an average of 54.3 +/- 7.7 mins/day, 4.9 +/- 1.7 days/week, at an intensity of 54% maximum heart rate reserve, for six months. Participants were counselled not to change their diets.
Main results: Total serum cholesterol, triglyceride, total serum cholesterol: HDL-C ratio, weight and fat mass decreased significantly in the walkers compared with the controls (P < 0.05), as did body mass index (P < 0.01). Walking resulted in a significant increase in VO2 max (P < 0.01). Changes in serum lipids were significantly related to changes in body fat, but not to change in aerobic fitness. There were no changes in dietary intake.
Conclusions: A moderate intensity exercise program induces favourable alterations in total serum cholesterol and other atherogenic indices in hyperlipidemic women postmenopause, and these changes are related more to loss of body fat than to increased fitness level.