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Effects of exercise on lipoproteins and hemostatic factors

Lynne T Braun, PhD, RN, CNP
Robert S Rosenson, MD
Section Editor
Mason W Freeman, MD
Deputy Editor
Gordon M Saperia, MD, FACC


Regular physical activity is important for the primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD).

In terms of primary prevention, numerous epidemiologic studies have shown that physically active individuals have a lower incidence of CHD compared with sedentary people. Furthermore, cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with a lower incidence of mortality from cardiovascular disease and from all causes. (See "Exercise and fitness in the prevention of cardiovascular disease".)

In terms of secondary prevention, exercise rehabilitation in people with known CHD reduces cardiovascular and total mortality by 26 and 20 percent, respectively, but it does not significantly reduce nonfatal myocardial infarction [1]. Furthermore, high levels of physical activity (2200 kcal/week) may be associated with regression of existing lesions [2]. (See "Cardiac rehabilitation: Indications, efficacy, and safety in patients with coronary heart disease".)

Although the mechanisms by which physical activity protects against CHD are not fully understood, the benefits may be mediated, in part, by the favorable influence of aerobic exercise on plasma lipoproteins and hemostatic factors. This topic will review the influence of aerobic training on lipoproteins as a function of exercise intensity and frequency in both healthy subjects and patients with CHD and describe the evidence for beneficial changes in hemostatic factors.


Early cross-sectional studies comparing middle-aged male runners to sedentary men suggested a beneficial effect of exercise on lipoproteins [3,4]. The runners had significantly lower serum levels of total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, very low density lipoprotein (VLDL)-cholesterol, and triglycerides, and a higher concentration of high density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 13, 2016.
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