Effects of Endurance Exercise Training on Plasma HDL Cholesterol Levels Depend on Levels of Triglycerides
Evidence From Men of the Health, Risk Factors, Exercise Training and Genetics (HERITAGE) Family Study
Abstract—High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol concentrations have been shown to increase with regular endurance exercise and, therefore, can contribute to a lower risk of coronary heart disease in physically active individuals compared with sedentary subjects. Although low HDL cholesterol levels are frequently observed in combination with hypertriglyceridemia, some individuals may be characterized by isolated hypoalphalipoproteinemia, ie, low HDL cholesterol levels in the absence of elevated triglyceride (TG) concentrations. The present study compared the responses of numerous lipoprotein-lipid variables to a 20-week endurance exercise training program in men categorized on the basis of baseline TG and HDL cholesterol concentrations: (1) low TG and high HDL cholesterol (normolipidemia), (2) low TG and low HDL cholesterol (isolated low HDL cholesterol), (3) high TG and high HDL cholesterol (isolated high TGs), and (4) high TGs and low HDL cholesterol (high TG/low HDL cholesterol). A series of physical and metabolic variables was measured before and after the training program in a sample of 200 men enrolled in the Health, Risk Factors, Exercise Training and Genetics (HERITAGE) Family Study. At baseline, men with high TG/low HDL cholesterol had more visceral adipose tissue than did men with isolated low HDL cholesterol and men with normolipidemia. The 0.4% (not significant) exercise-induced increase in HDL cholesterol levels in men with isolated low HDL cholesterol suggests that they did not benefit from the “HDL-raising” effect of exercise. In contrast, men with high TG/low HDL cholesterol showed a significant increase in HDL cholesterol levels (4.9%, P<0.005). Whereas both subgroups of men with elevated TG levels showed reductions in plasma TGs (≈−15.0%, P<0.005), only those with high TG/low HDL cholesterol showed significantly reduced apolipoprotein B levels at the end of the study (−6.0%, P<0.005). Multiple regression analyses revealed that the exercise-induced change in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (10.6%, P<0.01) was the only significant correlate of the increase in plasma HDL cholesterol with training in men with high TG/low HDL cholesterol. Results of the present study suggest that regular endurance exercise training may be particularly helpful in men with low HDL cholesterol, elevated TGs, and abdominal obesity.
- Received January 29, 2001.
- Accepted April 6, 2001.