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Am Heart J. 2006 Feb;151(2):367.e7-367.e16.

Effects of exercise training on 5 inflammatory markers associated with cardiovascular risk.

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  • 1Green Lane Cardiovascular Service, Auckland City Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand.



Cross-sectional studies suggest that regular exercise has anti-inflammatory effects, leading to lower levels of several proatherogenic inflammatory markers. However, this has yet to be confirmed by randomized prospective trials. We performed a randomized controlled trial to assess whether exercise training decreases levels of 5 inflammatory markers linked to future cardiovascular risk: white blood cell count, fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1, and soluble CD40 ligand.


One hundred fifty-two healthy female smokers were randomized to either 12 weeks of exercise training or health education as part of a smoking cessation program. Smoking was held steady for the first 6 weeks, and thereafter, smoking cessation was actively attempted. One hundred four participants completed 6 weeks, and 88 completed 12 weeks. Fitness and circulating inflammatory marker levels were measured at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks. To avoid potential confounding from changes in smoking exposure during the second 6 weeks of the trial, the primary end point was change in inflammatory marker levels from baseline to 6 weeks. Change in inflammatory markers from baseline to 12 weeks was a secondary end point.


At baseline, greater physical fitness was associated with lower white blood cell, fibrinogen, and C-reactive protein levels, but these associations were not statistically significant after adjusting for body mass index (P > .1 for all). Fitness improved significantly in the exercise group at both 6 and 12 weeks. However, there were no differences in levels of any inflammatory marker between the exercise and control groups at either 6 weeks (primary end point) or 12 weeks (secondary end point) (P > .05 for all comparisons).


In female smokers, baseline associations between fitness and inflammatory markers were largely attributable to differences in body fat; regular exercise did not reduce levels of any of the inflammatory markers studied despite a significant improvement in fitness at both 6 and 12 weeks.

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