Objective: Both the UK Department of Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days for health. Specific mention is made of beneficial effects upon blood lipids. The purpose of this study was to compare biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in men who perform physical activity in accordance with these recommendations with those who do not.
Methods: 128 healthy men, aged 40–65 years, were recruited. 61 were classified as active (performing at least the minimum recommended physical activity of ⩾4 metabolic equivalents (METs), for 6 months immediately before the study) and 67 as sedentary. Fasting blood was drawn for total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), triglycerides, and apolipoproteins (Apo) A-1 and B. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) was estimated using the Friedewald equation.
Results: The median (interquartile range) physical activity level was 7.0 (5.0–10.7) versus 1.0 (0–1.8) hour/week at ⩾4 METs (active versus sedentary; p<0.001). Apo A-1 was higher in the active men (p = 0.032). No significant differences were found for TC, HDL-C, LDL-C, TC:HDL-C, triglycerides, Apo B, or the Apo B:A-1 ratio.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that physical activity performed according to the recommendations used in this study favourably influenced Apo A-1. The finding that cholesterol and triglycerides were not different in men achieving the recommended physical activity levels compared with sedentary men contradicts some of the claims made within the published recommendations. However, intervention studies are needed to clarify these preliminary findings.
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