Exercise training has little effect on HDL levels and metabolism in men with initially low HDL cholesterol

Joseph M. Zmuda, Susan M. Yurgalevitch, Mary M. Flynn, Linda L. Bausserman, Ann Saratelli, Donna J. Spannaus-Martin, Peter N. Herbert, Paul D. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Low concentrations of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) are a recognized risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Exercise is often recommended to increase HDL-C, but the effect of exercise training on HDL levels and metabolism in subjects with low HDL concentrations is not well defined. The present study compared the HDL response to 12 months of supervised endurance exercise training without weight loss in 17 men aged 26- 49 years with initially low (< 40 mg/dl, N = 7) or normal (> 44 mg/dl, N = 10) HDL-C levels. HDL-C levels and HDL apolipoprotein metabolism were assessed while the subjects consumed controlled diets before and after the year of training. Increases in total (5.1 ± 2.8 versus 1.9 ± 4.2 mg/dl, P = 0.08) and HDL2 (3.8 ± 2.9 versus 0.4 ± 1.1 mg/dl, P = 0.01) cholesterol were greater in men with normal initial HDL-C levels. Catabolic rates for HDL apolipoproteins decreased 7-14% and biological half-lives increased 10-15% after exercise training in subjects with normal HDL, but were unchanged in the low HDL-C group. HDL apolipoprotein synthetic rates were not consistently affected by exercise training in either group. Postheparin lipoprotein lipase activity increased 27%, the clearance rate of intravenous triglycerides increased 14%, and apolipoprotein B levels decreased 16% with training in subjects with normal HDL-C but were unchanged in the low HDL-C group. We conclude that the ability to increase HDL-C levels through endurance exercise training is limited in subjects with low initial HDL-C, possibly because exercise training in such subjects fails to alter triglyceride metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-221
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 3 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by National Institutes of Health Grant HL-28467 and gifts from the Miriam Foundation, Merit Industries, William Jakober, and the McNulty Family.


  • Exercise
  • HDL
  • Lipoprotein lipase
  • Triglycerides


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