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HHS Exercise Recommendations for Lipid Disorders — an article on the Smart Living Network
March 11, 2011 at 1:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

HHS Exercise Recommendations for Lipid Disorders


Many people participate in various physical activities to improve their appearance or energy levels. Although weight management is important, the long term benefits of exercise can protect you from serious diseases. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently provided a detailed list of guidelines about physical activity in order to inform people about these types of prevention. For example, regular exercise has an effect on both forms of cholesterol.

Physical Activity and Cholesterol

There are two main kinds of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol (good cholesterol), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Here is what the HHS included in the section about lipid disorders: "Endurance training may increase the serum concentration of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol (approximately 5% from baseline) and decrease the concentration of low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol (5%) as well as triglycerides (4%) in healthy, sedentary individuals (Kodama et al., 2007; Leon & Sanchez, 2001)." As a clarification, "endurance training" generally refers to aerobic exercise. Walking, swimming, and bicycle riding have all been shown to improve the cardiovascular system. Specifically, the HHS recommends that, "A high amount of brisk (at least moderate-intensity) physical activity over several months is needed in order to bring forth the beneficial effects on HDL-cholesterol concentration (Kraus et al., 2002). In practice, this means brisk walking or similar exercise for 30 to 60 minutes almost daily." Consistency is an integral part of any fitness program. Without routine movement, the body will not respond as well to physical activity, especially if the exercise is sporadic. Try to select activities that you enjoy to ensure your motivation. Begin slowly and build up to the recommended times of 30 to 45 minutes of exercise each day for four to five days a week.

Diet, Exercise, and Cholesterol

Another key component in a successful fitness program is nutrition. It takes a combination of healthy eating and physical activity to achieve optimal results. This is particularly relevant in the case of saturated fats, based on the following explanation of the HHS: "The effect of physical activity on the LDL-cholesterol concentration is enhanced if the intake of saturated fats is reduced simultaneously. The above mentioned beneficial changes in the lipid profile may be further augmented with concurrent weight reduction (adipose tissue reduction) (Williams, "Health effects," 2001). Larger serum lipid changes are seen with the combination of low fat diet and exercise (Yu-Poth et al., 1999)."

Resistance Training

Besides endurance training, the effects of resistance training were also studied. Using additional weights or body weight, the muscles rebuild stronger as they encounter resistance. In the analysis of lipids disorders, it is indicated that the available information on the effect of resistance training on the blood lipoproteins varies, and the HDL cholesterol does not always increase. A possible reason is that there could be lower energy consumption with moderate-intensity resistance training than with aerobic training. Consult with your doctor for the best nutrition and exercise program. Depending on your goals and fitness levels, certain foods and exercises might work better for your situation. Remember to monitor your cholesterol according to the doctor's recommendations.

Classification of the Quality of Evidence

Code Quality of Evidence Definition
A High Further research is very unlikely to change our confidence in the estimate of effect.
  • Several high-quality studies with consistent results
  • In special cases: one large, high-quality multi-centre trial
B Moderate Further research is likely to have an important impact on confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate.
  • One high-quality study
  • Several studies with some limitations
C Low Further research is very likely to have an important impact on confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate.
  • One or more studies with severe limitations
D Very Low Any estimate of effect is very uncertain.
  • Expert opinion
  • No direct research evidence
  • One or more studies with very severe limitations

GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) Working Group 2007 (modified by the EBM Guidelines Editorial Team).


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