Leisure Time Exercise and Lipid and Lipoprotein Levels in an Older Population

Peter D. Reaven, Janice B. McPhillips, Elizabeth L. Barrett‐Connor, Michael H. Criqui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Plasma lipid and lipoprotein levels were measured in 1,019 men and 1,273 women, aged 50 to 89, who were classified according to whether they reported participation in regular strenuous exercise. In men and women, strenuous exercisers had significantly (P < .01) higher age‐adjusted high‐density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels than nonstrenuous exercisers, and male strenuous exercisers also had lower plasma triglyceride levels. Adjusting for differences in cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, or obesity did not alter these results. A subgroup of 498 consecutive men and 615 consecutive women that completed a more detailed exercise questionnaire were classified into categories of light, moderate, heavy, or no exercise. In men, age‐adjusted HDL cholesterol levels were higher and triglyceride levels lower with higher exercise‐intensity categories (P for trend < .001). In the heavy exercise category, HDL cholesterol levels were 15% higher and plasma triglyceride levels were 41% lower than in the sedentary group. In women, HDL cholesterol levels were significantly higher and triglyceride levels lower at the more moderate levels of exercise. In both genders results among exercise‐intensity groups did not change after adjusting for age, cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption. In men, adjusting for obesity did not significantly alter the intergroup differences, whereas in women adjusting for body mass index or waist‐to‐hip ratio reduced differences in HDL cholesterol levels between exercising and sedentary participants to nonsignificance. We conclude that exercise levels attainable by older adults may significantly improve HDL cholesterol levels and could theoretically reduce the risk of ischemic heart disease. 1990 The American Geriatrics Society

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-854
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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