The study investigated the potential health benefits of two levels of short-term exercise intervention, compared with non-intervention, on selected modifiable coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors and functional fitness states in middle-aged men. All subjects underwent medical screening and signed informed consent before carrying out a standardized graded treadmill walk which required exercise up to 85% of age-predicted maximal heart rate. The results of the test were used together with musculoskeletal fitness assessments, for the prescription of a personalized exercise programme lasting 14 weeks. In all, 55 subjects were classified by adherence into high (HA, n = 20), low (LA, n = 19), or non-adherence (NA, n = 16) groups according to the degree of documented participation in the programme based on standard criteria (American College of Sports Medicine 1978, 1990). In addition, the respective groups of subjects were classified according to other modifiable and non-modifiable CHD risk factors and compared by self-reported levels of activity and sport involvement as well as perceived body weight classification. The results indicated that there were more comprehensive improvements in functional fitness including significant gains in aerobic endurance capacity, muscular endurance and flexibility in the HA group compared with the LA and NA groups. However, there was little or no change in the modifiable CHD risk factors in any of the respective groups, although anthropometric indices of weight, body mass index (BMI), skinfolds and waist:hips ratio tended to decrease in the HA and LA groups but increased marginally in the NA group.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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