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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1989 Dec;21(6):669-74.

Aerobic and resistive exercise modify risk factors for coronary heart disease.

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Division of Geriatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Francis Scott Key Medical Center, Baltimore, MD 21224.


An awareness of the health-related benefits of regular physical activity, prudent diet, and cessation of cigarette smoking are some of the mechanisms by which risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) and the incidence of complications of atherosclerosis have declined in the American population. Exercise training is associated with improvements in lipid and glucose metabolism that are manifested by enhanced insulin sensitivity, improved glucose tolerance, increased high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, reduced triglyceride and low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and reductions in blood pressure. In addition to reduced risk factors for atherosclerosis, physically conditioned individuals have better cardiovascular function at rest and during exercise than their inactive peers. Thus, exercising training reduces morbidity and mortality from atherosclerotic complications through both direct (cardiovascular) and indirect (risk factor modification) mechanisms. Many studies demonstrate a strong association between regular physical activity and reduced risk for CHD. This article provides a review of risk factors for CHD and the potential health benefits of aerobic and resistive exercise. The time seems apt for the institution of multifactorial cardiovascular risk prevention programs in which aerobic and resistive exercise are combined with prudent diet therapy and smoking cessation to reduce risk factors for CHD.

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